The Gemara in Kiddushin that we're going through these days is involved in a long and detailed discussion of Avdut - generally translated as slavery, though the details make it clear that actually indentured service is a more accurate translation. As with many segments of the Talmud, it seems devoid of direct relevance as the whole institution being described is long since dead. It's the indirect relevance, however, which is so interesting.
Most of the discussion so far has been highly legalistic. Today's page suddenly veered off in a different direction, and wondered how the actions of the indentured man contributed to his getting there; the assumption being that had he lived correctly, he wouldn't have.
It's a startling assumption, seen from our perspective. We live in a world where people who suffer are victims, and victims by definition suffer because of the malice of perpetrators - or at best, societal conditions which were created by malicious people. If anyone ever tries to say otherwise, he is immidiately castigated for "blaming the victims".
Sometimes you have to go back 1,700 years for a breath of fresh air.
Kiddushin 20, a-b.
This thread began here.