The Golden Calf and Forfeiting Freedom
(א) וַיַּ֣רְא הָעָ֔ם כִּֽי־בֹשֵׁ֥שׁ מֹשֶׁ֖ה לָרֶ֣דֶת מִן־הָהָ֑ר וַיִּקָּהֵ֨ל הָעָ֜ם עַֽל־אַהֲרֹ֗ן וַיֹּאמְר֤וּ אֵלָיו֙ ק֣וּם ׀ עֲשֵׂה־לָ֣נוּ אֱלֹהִ֗ים אֲשֶׁ֤ר יֵֽלְכוּ֙ לְפָנֵ֔ינוּ כִּי־זֶ֣ה ׀ מֹשֶׁ֣ה הָאִ֗ישׁ אֲשֶׁ֤ר הֶֽעֱלָ֙נוּ֙ מֵאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֔יִם לֹ֥א יָדַ֖עְנוּ מֶה־הָ֥יָה לֽוֹ׃ (ב) וַיֹּ֤אמֶר אֲלֵהֶם֙ אַהֲרֹ֔ן פָּֽרְקוּ֙ נִזְמֵ֣י הַזָּהָ֔ב אֲשֶׁר֙ בְּאָזְנֵ֣י נְשֵׁיכֶ֔ם בְּנֵיכֶ֖ם וּבְנֹתֵיכֶ֑ם וְהָבִ֖יאוּ אֵלָֽי׃ (ג) וַיִּתְפָּֽרְקוּ֙ כָּל־הָעָ֔ם אֶת־נִזְמֵ֥י הַזָּהָ֖ב אֲשֶׁ֣ר בְּאָזְנֵיהֶ֑ם וַיָּבִ֖יאוּ אֶֽל־אַהֲרֹֽן׃
(1) When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, the people gathered against Aaron and said to him, “Come, make us a god who shall go before us, for that man Moses, who brought us from the land of Egypt—we do not know what has happened to him.” (2) Aaron said to them, “Take off the gold rings that are on the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” (3) And all the people took off the gold rings that were in their ears and brought them to Aaron.

It seems that this text suggests that every individual is wearing earrings. Although this is probably not true, this shows us that the Israelites are unified in thought and action in regard to their feelings of oppression. When the people remove their earrings, they are leaving a hole in their ears. The hole in the ear is a physical indication of a slave's decision to remain enslaved. The Israelites forfeit their mental freedom and pledge themselves to God. The creation of the golden calf is act of immaturity that shows God that the people are not prepared to be independent or self sufficient.

(ב) דַּבֶּר־נָ֖א בְּאָזְנֵ֣י הָעָ֑ם וְיִשְׁאֲל֞וּ אִ֣ישׁ ׀ מֵאֵ֣ת רֵעֵ֗הוּ וְאִשָּׁה֙ מֵאֵ֣ת רְעוּתָ֔הּ כְּלֵי־כֶ֖סֶף וּכְלֵ֥י זָהָֽב׃
(2) Tell the people to borrow, each man from his neighbor and each woman from hers, objects of silver and gold.”

This gold was made into earrings at some point in between the exodus from Egypt and the golden calf.

(ז) וְלָֽקְחוּ֙ מִן־הַדָּ֔ם וְנָֽתְנ֛וּ עַל־שְׁתֵּ֥י הַמְּזוּזֹ֖ת וְעַל־הַמַּשְׁק֑וֹף עַ֚ל הַבָּ֣תִּ֔ים אֲשֶׁר־יֹאכְל֥וּ אֹת֖וֹ בָּהֶֽם׃

(7) They shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they are to eat it.

(ו) וְהִגִּישׁ֤וֹ אֲדֹנָיו֙ אֶל־הָ֣אֱלֹהִ֔ים וְהִגִּישׁוֹ֙ אֶל־הַדֶּ֔לֶת א֖וֹ אֶל־הַמְּזוּזָ֑ה וְרָצַ֨ע אֲדֹנָ֤יו אֶת־אָזְנוֹ֙ בַּמַּרְצֵ֔עַ וַעֲבָד֖וֹ לְעֹלָֽם׃ (ס)
(6) his master shall take him before God. He shall be brought to the door or the doorpost, and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall then remain his slave for life.

Rashi explains the connection between the doorpost a slave's ear is pierced against and the doorpost from the exodus of Egypt.

ורצע אדניו את אזנו במרצע. הַיְמָנִית, אוֹ אֵינוֹ, אֶלָּא שֶׁל שְׂמֹאל? תַּ"לֹ אֹזֶן אֹזֶן לִגְזֵרָה שָׁוָה, נֶאֱמַר כָּאן וְרָצַע אֲדֹנָיו אֶת אָזְנוֹ, וְנֶאֱמַר בִּמְצֹרָע תְּנוּךְ אֹזֶן הַמִּטַּהֵר הַיְמָנִית (ויקרא י"ד), מַה לְּהַלָּן הַיְמָנִית, אַף כָּאן הַיְמָנִית; וּמָה רָאָה אֹזֶן לֵרָצַע מִכָּל שְׁאָר אֵבָרִים שֶׁבַּגּוּף? אָמַר רַבָּן יוֹחָנָן בֶּן זַכַּאי: אֹזֶן זֹאת שֶׁשָּׁמְעָה עַל הַר סִינַי לֹא תִגְנֹב, וְהָלַךְ וְגָנַב, תֵּרָצַע. וְאִם מוֹכֵר עַצְמוֹ, אֹזֶן שֶׁשָּׁמְעָה עַל הַר סִינַי כִּי לִי בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל עֲבָדִים, וְהָלַךְ וְקָנָה אָדוֹן לְעַצְמוֹ, תֵּרָצַע. רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן הָיָה דּוֹרֵשׁ מִקְרָא זֶה כְּמִין חֹמֶר: מַה נִּשְׁתַּנּוּ דֶּלֶת וּמְזוּזָה מִכָּל כֵּלִים שֶׁבַּבַּיִת? אָמַר הַקָּבָּ"ה דֶּלֶת וּמְזוּזָה שֶׁהָיוּ עֵדִים בְּמִצְרַיִם כְּשֶׁפָּסַחְתִּי עַל הַמַּשְׁקוֹף וְעַל שְׁתֵּי הַמְּזוּזוֹת וְאָמַרְתִּי כִּי לִי בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל עֲבָדִים – עֲבָדַי הֵם וְלֹא עֲבָדִים לַעֲבָדִים – וְהָלַךְ זֶה וְקָנָה אָדוֹן לְעַצְמוֹ, יֵרָצַע בִּפְנֵיהֶם (קידושין כ"ב):

ורצע אדניו את אזנו במרצע AND HIS LORD SHALL BORE HIS EAR THROUGH WITH THE AWL — “His ear” means his right ear. Or perhaps this is not so, but Scripture means his left ear? Scripture however uses the term אזן here and it uses אזן in another passage, thereby suggesting an analogy based upon verbal similarity; viz., here it is said “and his lord shall bore his ear (אזנו) through”, and of the leper it is said, (Leviticus 14:25) “and the priest shall put it upon the tip of the right ear (אזנו הימית) of him that is to be cleansed”. — How is it in that latter passage? It is the right ear! So here, too, it is the right ear. — What is the reason that the ear had to be pierced rather than any other limb of the servant’s body? Rabban Jochanan ben Zaccai said: That ear which heard on Mount Sinai, (Exodus 20:13) “Thou shalt not steal” and yet its owner went and stole and was therefore sold as a slave — let it be pierced! Or, in the case of him who sold himself from destitution, having committed no theft, the reason is: That ear which heard on Mount Sinai what I said, (Leviticus 25:55) “For unto Me the children Israel are servants” and yet its owner went and procured for himself another master — let it be pierced! (Mekhilta d'Rabbi Yishmael 21:6:3; Kiddushin 22b). Rabbi Simeon interpreted this verse like a jewel (i. e. giving it an ethical signification): In what respect are door and doorpost different from all other objects in the house that they should be singled out for this purpose? God, in effect, said: door and doorpost that were eye-witnesses in Egypt when I passed over the lintel and the two doorposts, freeing Israel from slavery, and when I said, (Leviticus 25:55) “For unto Me the children of Israel are servants” — servants to Me but not servants of servants (of human beings), and yet this man went and procured another master for himself — let him be pieced in their presence (i. e. let them be eye-witnesses now when this man voluntarily prolongs his state of slavery)! (Kiddushin 22b.)

רבן יוחנן בן זכאי היה דורש את המקרא הזה כמין חומר מה נשתנה אזן מכל אברים שבגוף אמר הקב"ה אזן ששמעה קולי על הר סיני בשעה שאמרתי (ויקרא כה, נה) כי לי בני ישראל עבדים ולא עבדים לעבדים והלך זה וקנה אדון לעצמו ירצע
Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai would expound this verse as a type of decorative wreath [ḥomer], i.e., as an allegory: Why is the ear different from all the other limbs in the body, as the ear alone is pierced? The Holy One, Blessed be He, said: This ear heard My voice on Mount Sinai when I said: “For to Me the children of Israel are slaves” (Leviticus 25:55), which indicates: And they should not be slaves to slaves. And yet this man went and willingly acquired a master for himself. Therefore, let this ear be pierced.

According to Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai, the ear is significant because God was heard from Mount Sinai when God said, "

ור"ש ב"ר היה דורש את המקרא הזה כמין חומר מה נשתנה דלת ומזוזה מכל כלים שבבית אמר הקב"ה דלת ומזוזה שהיו עדים במצרים בשעה שפסחתי על המשקוף ועל שתי המזוזות ואמרתי כי לי בני ישראל עבדים ולא עבדים לעבדים והוצאתים מעבדות לחירות והלך זה וקנה אדון לעצמו ירצע בפניהם:
And Rabbi Shimon bar Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi would likewise expound this verse as a type of decorative wreath: Why are the door and a doorpost different from all other objects in the house, that the piercing is performed with them? The Holy One, Blessed be He, said: The door and the doorpost were witnesses in Egypt when I passed over the lintel and when I passed over the two doorposts of houses in which there were Jews (Exodus, chapter 12), and I said: “For to Me the children of Israel are slaves,” and they should not be slaves to slaves. And I delivered them at that time from slavery to freedom, and yet this man went and acquired a master for himself. Therefore, let him be pierced before them, as they are witnesses that he violated God’s will.
ויתפרקו. לְשׁוֹן פְּרִיקַת מַשָּׂא, כְּשֶׁנְטָלוּם מֵאָזְנֵיהֶם נִמְצְאוּ הֵם מְפֹרָקִים מִנִּזְמֵיהֶם, דישקריי"ר בְּלַעַז:
ויתפרקו AND [ALL THE PEOPLE] BRAKE OFF — פרק is a term denoting “unloading a burden”. Being a transitive verb one would expect ויפרקו instead of the reflexive form ויפרקו but when they took them (the pendants) off their ears they themselves became unloaded from their pendants and therefore ויתפרקו “they unloaded themselves”, is the appropriate word to use; décharger in old French, English discharge.
כִּֽי־לִ֤י בְנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ עֲבָדִ֔ים עֲבָדַ֣י הֵ֔ם אֲשֶׁר־הוֹצֵ֥אתִי אוֹתָ֖ם מֵאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרָ֑יִם אֲנִ֖י יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶֽם׃
For it is to Me that the Israelites are servants: they are My servants, whom I freed from the land of Egypt, I the LORD your God.