The Torah is not only a guide to living a life of truth within the physical world, it is also the literal blueprint and DNA of this physical world. Our physical world is a projection and emanation of the deep spiritual reality described by the Torah. This is the meaning of the midrash, “Istakel b’Oraisa u’vara alma,” Hashem looked into the Torah and used it to create the world (B’reishis Rabbah 1:1). The physical world is an emanation and expression of Torah, the spiritual root of existence. As such, every single word of Torah is of infinite importance.

Sometimes, spelling doesn’t count!

The Apter Rav, Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Heshel zt”l (d. 1825), epitomized the name of his sefer, Oheiv Yisrael, as he truly exemplified love for every Jew. His audience had already come to expect that each of his sermons would center on the theme of Ahavas Yisrael, always with some connection to the weekly Torah portion.

Sometimes we have to cry in order to feel sad.

It has been noted that the laws of national mourning for the Beis HaMikdash are patterned after the personal aveilus that one observes for the loss of a relative, lo aleinu. The restrictions of The Three Weeks are the same that a mourner observes during the 12 months after losing a parent: no haircuts, music, or weddings. Beginning with The Nine Days, we take on the national version of shloshim: no laundry, cutting nails, or bathing. Lastly, the mourning of Tish’ah B’Av itself has the status of shiv’ah: no leather shoes, Torah study, or sitting on chairs.

Chanukah was approaching, and the first-grade teacher wanted to give his class a fun assignment. He asked his students to draw a picture of something they were thankful for, and at the end, they would hang them all together in a collage. Most of the students drew Chanukah-related images, but Yaakov drew a different kind of picture. Yaakov was a different kind of boy. He came from a disadvantaged family, he struggled in school, and he had trouble making friends. As the other children played, Yaakov was likely to stay back and stand by his teacher’s side.

Remaining respectful of parents can lead to having a cow!

Chukas opens with the laws of the parah adumah (red heifer). Due to its paradoxical procedure, this mitzvah is considered to be the quintessential chok, a law without an understandable explanation. Because it was so rare, a true parah adumah was worth a fortune, as evidenced by the following story.