Weddings are on my mind. For the last couple of months, I have been eagerly preparing for my daughter’s wedding.

It’s an exciting time with many details to take care of. But once in a while, as I cross off another task from my to-do list, I wonder about all the ritual and ceremony. Why is there a need for the formality of an official declaration of love and commitment of the bride and the groom, when it is so apparent?

Perhaps an answer can be found in this week’s Torah portion, Nitzavim, which begins with the words:

You stand upright this day, all of you, before the L‑rd your G‑d: your heads, your tribes, your elders, your officers, and all the men of Israel, your little ones, your wives, and your stranger that is in your camp, from the hewer of your wood to the drawer of your water. You stand upright this day, all of you, before the L‑rd your G‑d (Deuteronomy 29:9-10).

The entire Jewish nation assembled, from the simple water carrier to their greatest leader, to enter a covenant with G‑d.

What is a covenant and what is its purpose? A covenant is a formal agreement to do or not do something specified. Even if circumstances change in the future, even if each party discovers something about the other that causes them to feel different, they will remain loyal to this agreement.

When we stood before G‑d entering into this covenant, He was assuring us, (and we Him,) that we will remain loyal to each other forever, even if future events cause us to temporarily lose favor.

At the wedding, too, the bride stands starry eyed before her groom and him before her, and they only see beauty, potential, and positive qualities. Nevertheless, they make a pact to one another that they will not allow any faults or follies, circumstances or challenges, or the difficult bends and curves that life throws at us, to get in the way of this relationship.

Nitzavim is always read the week before Rosh Hashana. In fact, the Baal Shem Tov explains that “You stand upright this day” is a reference to Rosh Hashanah, the day on which we all stand in judgment before G‑d.

After the month of Elul, when we have reached a greater level of love and connection with G‑d, on Rosh Hashana, we pledge our unconditional commitment to G‑d, as His people. And we pray, that G‑d too, reaffirms His covenant with us, even if our actions later are inconsistent with our current feelings.

We do this together. We ask G‑d to love us unconditionally, just as we show our unconditional love for all of our fellow Jews—even those that are culturally, religiously, socially, intellectually, or economically on different levels from where we are.