By Rav Avraham Greenman
Translated by Moshe Neveloff
“The world depends on three things- on Torah study, on the service of God, and on kind deeds”. Regarding these three areas we are commanded to love- to love the Torah, to love Hashem and to love other Jews.
How? Is it possible to command someone to love?
For example, a person who doesn’t like to eat fish, there is no way to get him to eat fish, either he likes to eat it or he doesn’t. However, someone who doesn’t have, G-d forbid, love for Hashem, the Torah or the Jewish people, he can and must learn to love.
What is the difference?
The difference is simple, to love is to connect; the word love in Hebrew (ahava) has the same numerical equivalent as the word one (echad), and nobody connects to fish! However to love Hashem, the Torah and the Jews you can, because you are connected. When you’ll reveal the connection, you will simply love.
We have a childish outlook: we love those people who give us sweets, who smile at us cutely, and cause us enjoyment in any way… and we continue with this outlook also in our real lives, in the form of ‘if you don’t give me what I want, I don’t like you!’
And not only regarding people is this true, but also with Hashem: “I already prayed several times and my prayers haven’t been answered… Hashem doesn’t listen to me.” And not just with any person is this so, also with our family who are our flesh and bones: “I’m not able to love him when he behaves this way…”
Why is this a lie, to love those who behave nicely, to love what meets your expectations?
Because it’s just an external covering. It’s not the real thing, it’s not the person himself.
“You shall love your fellow as yourself”, that means to love myself with Hashem and to give that same love to others.
That means to love myself as I am at this moment, in the situation that Hashem has put me in, with all of my traits and experiences and accomplishments, and to love the person next to me the way he is at this moment, with all of his traits and experiences and accomplishments!
Because the character traits, experiences and accomplishments are only the ‘exterior design’ of the true self, and when I learn to identify my true self, which is completely good, I am filled with love for him, and I can take this viewpoint and apply it to every Jew that I see, by identifying his internal self as completely good and his behavior as only the external covering.
By way of an additional quiet contemplation, using this approach, I’m amazed to reveal that both of us are actually the same thing! Incredible creations of Hashem, and how is it not possible to love?!
 Ethics of the Fathers, 1:2
 Leviticus, 19:19