This week we read about a strange ceremony that the Jews will carry out at the mountains of Gerizim and Eival. As the Torah tells us, these mountains lie on the western bank of the Jordan river. When they get there, six tribes will stand on one mountain and six will stand on the other. The Levi'im will stand in the valley in the middle and pronounce blessings keeping the Torah and curses abandoning it. In response, the nation will say "Amen," agreeing to what has been said. Why is this necessary?
The critical element here is not the pronouncements of the Levi'im, but rather the agreement of the people of Israel to that bargain. The Jews will agree, again to maintain the covenantal relationship which was born on Mt Sinai and has weathered the stresses of the desert so well. But this merely begs a further question, why is this necessary at all? Haven't we already shown our commitment, as last week's Parsha told us, by following G-d through the desert with all its hardships? Didn't we already agree to keep everything?
Sometimes in life, when circumstances change, we rethink our priorities, we change course, and we modify our plans. This is a natural, healthy process. But our identities as Jews must remain constant. So as the Jews enter the land and begin to look out for themselves and worry about the very ordinary lives that they will live there, they have to recommit to the extraordinary relationship with G-d, to their special and unique identity.
In our day, as our lives have changed so dramatically over the last few months, many people have changed course and have reassessed priorities. Again, this is a normal response to a very different situation from what we could have ever expected. However, as we do so, let's make sure that our Judaism continues to occupy pride of place, continues to be central. As a new year begins, and as we continue to adjust to new modes of living, let's have our Judaism be the compass, showing us the way forward.