The long hot days of summer are here and for most families this means road trips, camp carpooling and other wonderful activities that involve spending a fair amount of time in the car. It is at times like these that we start to realize all the important features that cars have these days.

Most important is the air conditioner. If that is not working, you may as well cancel the trip. However there are other things that we might notice these days that during other seasons just seem less important. I am referring to the tape/cd/radio/ipod car stereo system. The long drives require soft music to put the kids to sleep, the short rides home from camp require exciting music to keep the kids awake.

As fate should have it our stereo system broke on us this past week and unfortunately this time it wasn't one of those quick fix situations. Anton, our trusty mechanic, changed the fuses a few times but it kept on blowing. Apparently there is a short in the system and the only way to address the problem is to leave the car for a full day.

At other times, this would be no issue, but in the busy summer schedule it is hard to find a day when we don't need the car. So, the radio is still waiting. The amazing thing that we have discovered though, is that one can actually live life in a car without a stereo system. We found out that there is another amazing thing to do while in a car: talk to one another.

Now, on the way to camp, we talk about the hopes and dreams of the day, and we even address life issues like what my five year old will do when he grows up. When we took a trip to the in-laws recently (a five hour drive) we spoke about many things from school, to grades, friends, and plans for life. When the kids eventually fell asleep, my wife and I talked about our kids, life, family, friends, hopes and plans for the future and many other wonderful conversations.

It is amazing how a great tool like the car stereo system can actually be a serious distraction from the most important things in your life: It is amazing how you can be "with" people but not "be" with them. your wife, your kids, your family. It is amazing how you can be "with" people but not "be" with them. Sadly I was made aware of how much time I spent with my kids but how little of that time actually counted. Talking, conversing, communicating, are all things that require effort and intention and won't happen on their own. Time together only counts if you really spend it together connecting and making real memories.

Do we want our kids to remember the landscape outside their windows while driving in the car? Or do we want them to remember the time spent with their parents and the conversations they had, words traded between parent and child, or husband and wife and the real bonding that they experienced?

In Judaism, there is a premium placed on words. "Blessed is He who 'said' and the world came into being," we say in our daily prayers. Speech has high value. It is the tool that G‑d chose to utilize in His creation of our world. He could have accomplished it with His thoughts and He could have created the world with any other mode, but speech was His choice of tools.

Our Sages teach us that with our speech we, too, can create and destroy. Just imagine how with a positive comment to another we can make (create) their day and with a negative comment to another we can break (destroy) their day.

Our words or often our lack of words has a tremendous and far reaching impact. Turn off the distractions of life and slow down long enough to actually focus inward on your most valuable relationships.

It is now one month later and finally did get that radio fixed, apparently the problem was my three year old had stuck a penny into the CD player and short circuited the system. Perhaps she was trying to "say" something to me and I wasn't listening...