This week we read Parshat V’etchanan. The portion includes the words of the first paragraph of the V’Ahavta, the text that follows the Sh’ma in our liturgy. We are reminded to speak and act in ways that “live Torah” at home and out in public, from the time we awaken until the time we lay our heads down to sleep at night.

Simple? Hardly. Have you ever made it through a day without making some unnecessary and less than complimentary comment about a friend, family member, or co-worker? Do you always wait patiently in a traffic jam or do you sometimes sneak along the next lane and try to cut in at the last minute, stealing time from other patient drivers and passengers? Have you been endlessly patient with your children and/or spouse today? Do you speak out against every injustice and care for the hungry or elderly in your community?

If you are like me you are sighing, shaking your head, and only wishing you could provide the “appropriate response” to each of the questions above. While I am sure that those of you reading this act with exceptional grace much of the time, I am guessing that at this moment you are suddenly far more focused on those moments where you might have missed the mark.
We are, however, only human. Just as our ancestors before us, we continue to try, misstep, and then must try again. Our goal is simple – to do better today than we did yesterday and to do better tomorrow than we did today. Dr. Seuss reminded us of our free will and power to make a difference when he wrote “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.”

Our morning liturgy reminds us that we awaken each morning with a pure, renewed soul. The V’ahavta (Deuteronomy 6:5-9) reminds us that beyond wearing t’fillin, we can metaphorically bind the lessons of Torah upon our hands and keep its teachings between our eyes, guiding our every action throughout the day.

Will we listen to that still small voice inside of us, acting as G-d’s partner on this earth? The reminders are there; the choice is ours to make. May we choose more wisely with every step.

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