A child asks a professional athlete for directions: "How do I get to the ballpark?"

The sports star responds: "Practice!"


It's where G‑d gave us the Torah.

But it's more than a spot in the wilderness; it's a concept.

Sinai represents our interface with the Divine, and our embrace of the challenge to live truly meaningful lives.

The Jews arrived in the Sinai Desert just over six weeks after they left their slavery in Egypt.

They'd made it—but "getting to the ballpark" wasn't easy. In anticipation of Sinai, the Jews had spent weeks searching themselves and their behaviors, finding their best selves and reshaping their perspectives on life.

But, as they approached that sacred ground, they needed the strength for a step beyond the intellectual, emotional and spiritual exercises they'd undergone.

They had a "weak hands syndrome." Once they got past it, they were ready for the Sinai ExperienceThey needed to act, to deliver – in real life – on their commitments.

Introspection is strenuous, and it's not easy to acknowledge one's weaknesses. But the real challenge lies in making concrete changes. Contemplation is great, but we find life's greatest meaning in action.

The Torah tells us that the Jews left Egypt, and then traveled from place to place in the desert. Ultimately, they came to Refidim and, upon leaving there, they arrived at Sinai.

Jewish tradition tells us that the word "Refidim" is a linguistic hint at the fact that the Jews' "hands were weak in Torah study" (the Hebrew word for weak is rafeh).

They had a "weak hands syndrome." Once they got past it, they were ready for the Sinai Experience.

The Rebbe once observed the oddity of describing a spiritual deficiency as having "weak hands."

The Rebbe explained that the Torah is pointing to the fact that the Jews' spiritual commitment stalled in the world of theory. Their spiritual attitude wasn't being expressed in their "hands."

So, after six weeks of internal search and refinement, the Jews had to cross that great chasm that lies between theory and action. That passage – leaving Refidim – made them ready for the experience that awaited them.

Every year, we relive Sinai with the holiday of Shavuot.

But in order to properly celebrate Shavuot, one first needs to arrive at Sinai.

And in order to get to Sinai, we need some practice.