Men love toys and gadgets. So, it was no surprise to me when my husband returned home one day with the latest gadget. In his hand he held a small black apparatus and was eager to demonstrate its efficacy. He claimed it was vital for the enhancement of the quality of our life.

The new device meant to improve and simplify our morning routine was an automatic car starter.

"Just push here and, voila, the van will automatically start up," he explained as he pushed one of the small protruding buttons. "If you are indoors, or far from where the van is parked, lift this antenna," he instructed, extending a long, silver antenna. "Several minutes before you are ready to head out, press the button, and the van will be all warmed up for you," he concluded with a tone of satisfaction.

Never an enthusiast for electronic gadgets, I listened half-heartedly to his instructions, nodding absentmindedly as he indicated the various buttons for locking, unlocking and alarming the van.

But the next time that I had occasion to use the automatic starter, I regretted that I hadn't paid closer attention. Pushing the wrong button, the alarm was triggered and the van beeped continuously and noisily. Frantically I pressed every button, as neighbors and pedestrians disdainfully looked on. By the time my four year old son showed me the correct button to press, I was ready to toss out the little wonder machine.

Eventually, though, I did get the hang of the automatic starter. In time, I even enjoyed using it. On icy winter mornings, I appreciated its convenience immensely. Each time, I marveled anew at how the simple pressing of the right button produced such a comfortably warm vehicle.

And then it struck me that we, too, all have automatic starters. Each morning we wake up and have a panoramic choice of buttons to press.

Starting our day with the right frame of mind, in gratitude to our Creator, expressed through our prayers and Torah studies, can get our morning started off on the right track. Pushing the right buttons throughout the day — a nod of encouragement or a welcoming smile to a child, spouse or acquaintance — can warm you and those around you.

On the other hand, push the wrong button — start off with a negative frame of mind, a harsh word or a scowling demeanor — and you've filled your day with a shrill and disturbing noise.

And though it may sometimes seem like a small act, done from a far distance, we all have large antennas, and each of our actions can be far-reaching in its impact.

There's one problem, though. Now that I've actually come to enjoy and appreciate this little automatic car starter, my husband — and four year old son — are hoping to teach me how to work all those other electronic contraptions...

Dedicated to my parents, Rabbi Dovid and Batsheva Schochet, on the occasion of their upcoming anniversary and my father's birthday. In gratitude to you both, for teaching by example how to push the right and meaningful buttons in life.