It was during Chumash class. Out of the corner of his eye, the teacher noticed a quiet conversation in the back of the classroom.

“May I borrow your sharpener?” Shmuel whispered to Danny, as he pointed to the broken point of his pencil.

Danny shook his head and stared hard at the Chumash on his desk. Danny was one of the best students in class. “This is not the first time I’ve noticed Danny’s lack of ahavas Yisrael,” the teacher thought to himself. “I must help him work on his middos.”

“Who would like to explain the next possuk? ” the teacher asked the class.

Danny’s hand shot up immediately.

“Go ahead, Danny.”

Danny translated the possuk word for word.

“What is the Torah teaching us in this possuk? ” asked the teacher.

Danny repeated his explanation.

“Danny,” said the teacher. “You’ve translated and explained the words, but what is the Torah teaching us in the possuk?”

Danny was stumped. “Isn’t that what I just said?” he insisted.

“No” said the teacher softly. “You translated the words, but you didn’t explain what the Torah is teaching us. The possuk means, ‘Lend your friend a pencil. Show him ahavas Yisrael.’

“But what does that have to do with this possuk?” he blurted out.

“Everything!” explained the teacher. “Hillel taught us: ‘Do not do unto others what you wouldn’t like done to you. This is the entire Torah. The rest is just explanation.’ Each possuk in Torah teaches us to show ahavas Yisrael.”

In this week’s parshah, we read “Veahavta Lere’acha Kamocha.” The Zohar tells us that Am Yisrael, the Torah, and HaShem are three links which are joined. When one of these links is strengthened, then the entire connection also becomes stronger.

When a Jew shows that he loves another Jew, his connection with the Torah becomes stronger, as Hillel taught, “Love the created beings and bring them close to the Torah.” In the same way, studying Torah leads us to more ahavas Yisrael. And both ahavas Yisrael and Torah study bring us closer to HaShem.

(Adapted from Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XVII, Kedoshim)