This Parasha contains the first of two admonitions in the Torah. It takes the form of a promise from G-d that if the Jews follow His laws, and are careful to keep His commandments, there will be good seasons and there will be peace in the land so the Jews will sleep without fear, and live securely in the land. If the Jews became indifferent to G-d’s laws, did not listen to G-d, did not keep His commandments, grew tired of His laws, G-d would consider the covenant broken. He would then bring feelings of anxiety, along with depression, destroying the Jews’ outlook and making life hopeless.
R’ Aryeh Kaplan commented that “ve’im taylchu imi keri” was translated in various ways, with his preference being “if you are indifferent to me” from R’ SR Hirsch. Rashi translated it as “if you make Me a temporary concern”, and Tosafot made it “if you harden yourselves against Me”. Rashbam preferred “ if you refuse to walk My way”, Ibn Ezra preferred “ if you become overconfident in your dealings with Me” , Saadia chose “ if you become rebellious against Me” , and Rashi interpreted it as “ if you make it a burden to walk with Me”. Radak interpreted it as “ if you treat My acts as accident”. R Kaplan summed it up when he wrote “The word “keri” could then denote triviality, harshness, refusal, overconfidence, rebellion, a burden or a natural accident”.
Jews are in a difficult position, as there is no current record of a covenant with G-d, although the existence of the state of Israel is considered miraculous by many. R David Hartman considers that it is the responsibility of individual Jews in every generation to establish their covenant with G-d. For agnostics, this week’s Parasha could be seen to underline the value of at least not appearing indifferent to G-d’s laws, maximising the chance that if a response from G-d was possible, that they would be deserving of it.