The mitzvah of loving one’s friend is multilayered. Ideally, we should feel love towards all of humanity. The Torah does not, however, expect this ideal, nor is it attainable for most people. We are, or course, prohibited to steal from, murder, or cheat any human being. We are also commanded not to hate anyone, even one’s enemy, as the Torah teaches us, “At the fall of your enemy, do not rejoice.”
When it comes to the positive commandment to love, however, the minimal requirement is more limited. According to Nachmanides, we are obligated to act with love toward one another, even when the corresponding emotion is absent. We must not do anything to another person we would not like to be done to us. Others disagree with this interpretation and maintain that we are obligated to develop a feeling of love toward other Jews. How can we be asked to do this? Because a person’s inner being is affected by his external reality. To the extent that we consistently behave with sensitivity and perform acts of kindness toward others, a feeling of love will inevitably begin to grow.
Although there is a divergence of opinions regarding the legal implications of the mitzvah, the practical directive is the same: Act kindly and with respect toward others at all times.