This Torah reading contains the command, “Love your fellow man as yourself.”

Seemingly, this is demanding the impossible. We care for others only to the extent that we perceive a common denominator, but that common denominator affects only a limited part of our personalities. It will never penetrate us entirely, for each of us possesses a fundamental self-concern; there is no one with whom we identify as strongly as we identify with ourselves. Thus, as long as we retain our self-concern, there is no way we can love any other person as much as we love ourselves.

It is possible, however, to redefine our sense of self. Instead of focusing on our personal “I,” we can highlight the G‑dly spark we possess, our true and most genuine self. And when a person’s G‑dly spark shines brightly, he is able to appreciate that a similar spark also burns within everyone. He can thus love another person as himself, because he and the other share a fundamental identity.

How does a person reach this level of love? By looking beyond his selfish and material concerns and focusing on the spiritual core that exists within him and within every person. Truly loving another person means not looking at what he or she can do for me, or why I am attracted to him or her, but on the G‑dly potential that person possesses.

On this basis, we can understand why Hillel, one of the Talmud’s greatest sages, declared that loving one’s fellowman was “the entire Torah,” the rest being merely commentary.

Our Rabbis question that statement, for although the Torah dwells heavily on the relations between man and man, it also puts much weight on the relationship between man and G‑d. What does loving one’s fellow man have to do with observing the Sabbath, keeping the dietary laws, or honoring the many other ritual obligations within Judaism?

When, however, we train ourselves to look past our selfish concerns and love another person because of the G‑dly core that person possesses we can appreciate the rationale for Hillel’s teaching. For the purpose of every mitzvah in the Torah is to help us look past the physical aspect of our existence and appreciate its spiritual core.