In his drasha on Parshat Nitzavim ( in Sefer Duda'i Reuven), Rav Reuven Katz זצ"ל questions why Joshua found it necessary to convene the twelve tribes, toward the end of his life, for a reenactment of the Covenant between Israel and God (Joshua 24). After all, he observes, the Jews were already bound by the commitment they had made at Sinai. Following the lead of R. Nissim Gerondi (Derashot Ha-RaN, ch. 15), he offers that the Covenant at Sinai was made by a tired, persecuted people, who had only recently been enslaved in Egypt. They were desperate for help, tempest tossed by the traumas of servitude. Searching for God and accepting the Torah under such circumstances was natural.
Now, however, the Jews were faced with a totally different situation. They were faced with a life of plenty, peace and tranquility. The temptation to graze in foreign religio-cultural fields abounded. Under those circumstances, a renewed commitment to Torah was required, especially since the residence of the Jew in the Land of Israel is contingent upon faith in God and adherence to the Torah. [Ironically, the Merkaz HaRav/Gush Emunim/Har HaMor crowd seem to forget this little fact. The maintenance of every little outpost in Judaea and Samaria (as much as I support it) means nothing if the religious and moral rot that is taking hold in the rest of the country is ignored.]
In a painful, and emotional coda to his sermon, Rav Katz prays:
Without the Jewish people, there is no place for the in-dwelling of God’s Presence. Therefore, this prayer is doubly pressing. ‘He who returns his Shekhinah to Zion.’ Except that in this generation we are duty-bound to ask the Jewish People, as well, that it allow the Shekhinah to return to Zion, to create a life of Torah and Jewish Heritage so that the Shekhinah may find therein a dignified and appropriate abode.
Imagine! 'We are duty-bound to ask the Jewish People, as well.' And where are we on that score?
Well, let's see. 1) Fifty-Seven percent of Secular Jews wouldn't mind if their children intermarried. 2) The media is hysterically celebrating the fact that Jews have made it. One of our own, Bar Rafaeli is the live-in mistress of Leonardo diCaprio. They even went to the Kotel! (Boy, the Shekhina must be thrilled! Another, Linor Abergil married a Lithuanian Basketball star, who plays in the NBA. Nahas. 3) Our intellectually challenged Education Minister ( along with our former Justice Minister) claim that there's no difference between Haredim and Hamas. Never mind the full time Hillule HaShem perpetrated by the Rabbinate (as in the threatened, ex post facto, revocation of a Get).
This Shabbat we read of another convocation, for Shemirat Shabbat. Food for Thought.