“Say you’re sorry,” Shaindy said in a commanding voice.

But her little sister Nechamah remained silent, her eyes glued to the floor.

“Come on, Nechamah, you have to say you’re sorry!” insisted Shaindy.

But Nechamah would not say a word.

Shaindy stomped out of the room in search of their mother. “Mommy, I’m so upset! Nechamah ruined the costume I was preparing for the play our class is putting on at the Shavuos assembly. I don’t know if she did it on purpose. All I asked her to do was to say she’s sorry, but she is so stubborn that I can’t get her to apologize. Would you make her say she’s sorry?”

“I can see you are upset, Shaindy, and I’m sorry you’ll have to make a new costume. But let’s stop and think for a moment. You just said you couldn’t get Nechamah to apologize and you’re asking me to make her do so. Is that what you really want?”

“Yes,” replied Shaindy wondering what her mother was trying to say.

“I definitely agree that she should say she is sorry,” continued her mother patiently. “But instead of your or my pushing her to do it, perhaps what you really want is that she choose to apologize on her own. Then we would all know that she has really thought about what she did and has decided that you deserve an apology.

“You see, Shaindy, often we can get people to say or do what we would like them to, but then they are not really choosing to do so. When a person has a choice, we know that he has thought things over, has made a decision, and is sincere.

“Take a look in this week’s parshah. The Torah tells us that Moshe heard the voice of HaShem when he was in the Ohel Moed. Rashi explains that this was a miracle. First of all, only Moshe heard the voice — no one else did, not even Aharon. Rashi didn’t want us to think that it was too low for others to hear, so he adds, ‘like the voice at Mount Sinai’ — the voice was loud and clear. Second, the voice filled the Ohel Moed but did not go past the entrance.

“Why shouldn’t HaShem’s voice have been heard outside the Mishkan? Wouldn’t it have been a good idea for the Jewish people to hear HaShem’s voice often? Then surely they would have been affected by its holiness and have fulfilled His will.

“The answer is that HaShem can get us to keep mitzvos by overwhelming us with His holiness. Then we would only do His will; but this is not what He wants. He wants us to choose to do the right thing on our own. This is what Rashi is telling us when he states that the voice in the Mishkan was ‘like the voice at Mount Sinai.’

“After the giving of the Torah, the voice of HaShem was no longer audible. And when the Jewish people could not hear His voice, they had the responsibility for choosing to do HaShem’s will on their own.”

(Adapted from Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XIII, p. 20)