What you put into it is what you get out of it.
It’s simple as that.
(At the 0:34 mark of the new Gatorade commercial)
Can you picture a teenager in the gym, taking hundreds of foul shouts in order to improve his free throw percentage?
Have you seen a runner at the track pounding out quarter-mile repeats to improve her 10K time?
Remember when you’d hit the batting cages for an hour to work on catching up to a fastball?
Do you remember how bad you wanted it?
There’s a reason we love Gatorade ad campaigns, or Under Armour commercials, or that as adults we challenge ourselves by running races and playing soccer even though we’re getting older. We love competing, excelling, setting goals, and achieving.
No one gets good at sports automatically. No matter how powerful your genes are, even the most talented athlete needs to practice, practice, and practice. The commitment and work ethic that is required to be good at sports is no secret.
Me, I probably spend about 500 hours a year between running, biking, and working out. And I’ll come out and admit it- there’s no way that I spend 450 hours a year going to services or doing Jewish things when I’m not at work.
If you subscribe to Malcom Gladwell’s theory that you need to practice something for 10,000 hours to really get good at something, then think for a minute. When’s the last time you made a similar commitment to mastering something Jewish? Was it for your Bar Mitzvah? Was it for a special Torah reading? Was it to lead services on the high holidays? Do you seek out those challenges?
You get the picture. I’m not here to tell us all to start doing 10,000 hours of Judaism…that’s 416.66 days, or well over a year, which works out to like thirty years’ worth of daily shacharit services, or sixty years of Shabbat morning services, or thousands of volunteering visits to soup kitchens or food pantries, or seventy-five adult learning or graduate classes, or one hundred years worth of Sunday-only Prozdor classes! On the flip side, though, I’m not going to encourage a Judaism lived with minimal commitment, which I could inappropriately generalize as one that features going to synagogue three times a year on the high holidays, attending two Passover seders, and lighting Chanukah candles, for around twenty hours a year. There’s a happy medium in there somewhere in between where we all are with our prioritization of Jewish involvements and where we can be pushed to bring ourselves.
I will challenge all of us to at least an extra hour per week to doing Jewish. I don’t care if it’s formal learning, going to services, volunteering, serving on a committee, or anything else. Another fifty hours of our time each year works out to a thousand hours over the next twenty. That’s no joke.
If we want Judaism to be meaningful, we’ve got to approach it like the training for an upcoming race. Daily commitment, hard work, sacrificing time, and making it a priority. We’d all benefit from more people giving more time to Judaism.
We’ve got to move beyond doing it “just because” and doing it because we really want it.