A few years ago, a radio station ran a contest. Disc jockeys invited their listeners to tune in their clock radios. “Just for fun,” they said, “when you wake up to the sound of FM-106, call and tell us the first words you spoke when you rolled out of bed. If you’re the third caller, you’ll win $106.”
It didn’t take long for the contest to grow in enthusiasm. The first morning, a buoyant disc jockey said, “Caller number three, what did you say when you rolled out of bed this morning?” A groggy voice said, “Do I smell coffee burning?” Another day, a sleepy clerical worker said, “Oh no, I’m late for work.” Somebody else said her first words were, “Honey, did I put out the dog last night?” A muffled curse was immediately heard in the background, and then a man was heard to say, “No, you didn’t.” It was a funny contest and drew a considerable audience.
One morning, however, the third caller said something unusual. The station phone rang. “Good morning, this is FM-106. You’re on the air. What did you say when you rolled out of bed this morning?”
A voice with a Bronx accent replied, “You want to know my first words in the morning?”
The bubbly DJ said, “Yes, sir! Tell us what you said.”
The Bronx voice responded, “Shema, Israel … Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might.” There was a moment of embarrassed silence. Then the radio announcer said, “Sorry, wrong number,” and cut to a commercial.
Try to remember. What did you say when you rolled out of bed today? Chances are, those words set the tone for the rest of the day. For the pious Jew the first words of each morning are always the same, and they were the words spoken that morning on FM-106. They were first spoken by Moses, who said, “Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Teach them to your children and talk about them when you lie down and when you rise” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7).