Rabbi Alexander Tsykin
This week we read about how when the Jews are to cross the Jordan river, they must conduct a very strange ceremony. They will travel to Mount Gerizim and Mount Eival and then half the nation will climb the one mountain and the other half will climb the other. The kohanim will stand in the valley between them and recite for them the blessings of the Torah and the curses contained within it and the people will reaccept this on themselves then. Why is this necessary?
As the Jews enter the land of Israel, it is important that they mark the transition by repeating what is important to them. They have to rearticulate their priorities as they go through the enormous transition of moving from life in the desert by miracles to living in the land by the sweat of their brow. They have to rethink what is at the centre of their existence so that they'll be able to sustain it in such a different environment.
Today as well, we can learn from this. As we transition from one year to the next, and in general whenever we are going through a time of transition, it is important to stay focused on our priorities. That way we don't lose sight of our goals and find that a year has passed us by without our having made a mark on it at all.