"Say you're sorry," Debby said in a commanding voice.

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

"Come on, Rachel, you have to say you're sorry!" insisted Debby.

But Rachel would not say a word.

Debby stomped out of the room in search of their mother. "Mom, I'm so upset! Rachel ruined the costume I was preparing for the play our class is putting on at the 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, Debby, 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 Rachel to apologize and you're asking me to make her do so. Is that what you really want?"

"Yes," replied Debby, 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 you 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, Debby, 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 the Torah. The Torah tells us that Moses heard the voice of G‑d when he was in the Mishkan. Our sages say that it was a miracle. First of all, only Moses heard the voice — no one else did, not even Aaron. The sages did not want us to think that it was too low for others to hear, so it says, 'like the voice at Mount Sinai'--the voice was loud and clear. Second, the voice filled the Mishkan but did not go past the entrance.

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

"The answer is that G‑d can get us to keep the commandments 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 the Torah is telling us when it states that the voice in the Mishkan was 'like the voice at Mount Sinai.'

"After the giving of the Torah, the voice of G‑d was no longer audible. And when the Jewish people could not hear His voice, they had the responsibility for choosing to do G‑d's will on their own."