Tanya Chapter 29: A Remedy for a heart of stone & spiritual insensitivity

Chapter 29: A Remedy for a heart of stone & spiritual Insensitivity

28th Shevat/(LY)9th Adar 1

1. Dealing with apathy-Timtum Halev and Moach:
  • Heart of stone-Unable to feel emotion during prayer: There is another issue for which we must give advice for the Beinoni, and that is regarding the occasional, and at times frequent, experience of heart of stone, in which the heart is not capable of having any emotion or feeling for G-d. In this state, one is unable to open his heart at all in any way to serve G-d during prayer using his heart and with emotion.
  • Unable to control his lust for the permitted: Likewise, on occasion the Beinoni is unable to battle his evil inclination, to sanctify himself with that which is permitted, due to the heaviness of his heart.
2. The advice-To break the heart and spirit of evil:
  • The teaching of the Zohar to break the body: The advice to be followed for one who is experiencing such a state of apathy and lack of emotion, is based on the following teaching of the Zohar. The Zohar states that the head of the Yeshiva in Gan Eden taught that one who is unable to light a log on fire is to break the log to small pieces, and accordingly if a body is unable to light the soul than it is to be broken.
  • The soul’s intellect does not shine: What this means is as follows: The light of the soul refers to its revelation and intellect. When the soul is not shining it means that its intellect is not able to shine and control the coarseness of the body.
  • The comprehension of G-d’s greatness does not penetrate the heart: This applies even if the person understands and comprehends in his mind the greatness of G-d, nonetheless, these ideas do not grasp and stick to his mind to the point that it is able to control the coarseness of the heart, and make movements with in his emotions and feelings.

(LY)10th Adar 1

  • The coarseness of the heart and arrogance of the Kelipa: This inability to affect the emotions of the heart is due to the coarseness and thickness of the heart, which results from the coarseness of the Kelipa which elevates itself over the light of holiness of the G-dly soul and conceals and darkens it’s light.
  • Crushing the heart: It is for this reason, in order to cure this state of apathy, that one needs to break and humble the heart and the side of Kelipa to dust. For the sake of doing so, one is to set times for belittling himself and make himself feel shameful and repulsive in his eyes.
  • Crushing the heart crushes the evil spirit: Upon breaking one’s heart one also consequently breaks the spirit of the side of evil being that this is the actual natural state of the Beinoni and is his instinctive personality.
3. The animal soul is a person’s conscious and natural state:
  • The soul which enlivens the body retains its strength within the heart of the Beinoni just as it was when it was first born, and hence it is found that [the animal soul and side of evil from which it derives] is the person himself.
  • The G-dly soul is an addition to the natural conscious state of the person: Regarding the G-dly soul that is found within the person, the verse states “the soul that you have given to me is pure.” This implies that the person himself is not the pure and G-dly soul [and it is just that is found within him].
4. By Tzaddikim, the G-dly soul is the person himself:
  • The above is with exception to Tzaddikim in which to the contrary, the pure and holy G-dly soul is the conscious state of the person himself, while their body is referred to as the flesh of man, which is so to say external from them.

(LY)11th Adar 1

  • The sage Hillel went to perform kindness with his body: Upon going to eat a meal, the sage Hillel told his students that he was going to do kindness with a poor and ashamed entity which is his body.
  • By a Tzadik the body is felt as a separate entity: The reason for this is based on what we said above, that by a Tzaddik, the body is felt as if it is a foreign entity and therefore he said that he is doing kindness with it by giving his body to eat.
  • There is no evil in the body of the Tzadik: He himself is only the G-dly soul alone, as it is the only soul which enlivens his body and flesh, as the evil that was once found within his animal soul which is invested in his blood and flesh, has been transformed into good and has literally become incorporated within the holiness of the G-dly soul by a tzaddik.

29th Shevat

  • The Beinoni contains evil which enlivens his body and is thus his natural self: However, by the Beinoni, being that the essence of his animal soul which derives from the side of evil and is invested in his blood and flesh has yet to change and be transformed to good it therefore ends up that this is his natural conscious state of self and it is the person himself.
5. The Beinoni is very distanced from G-d:
  • Accordingly, it is clear that the Beinoni is very distanced from G-d to the ultimate distance being that he still contains evil within him and that his evil is his natural trait.
  • Lusting after the forbidden: The evil that is found within him is not just capable of lusting after the permitted pleasures but is also capable of lusting after the forbidden pleasures which are against the will of G-d. Now, although he does not actually contemplate transgressing these prohibitions heaven forbid, nonetheless, the mere fact that these forbidden pleasures are not truly repulsive to him as they are by Tzaddikim, shows that his natural state is one that contains evil.
  • Even worse than the impure animals: Due to the above, it is found that the Beinoni is even worse and more repulsive and abhorrent then even impure animals and reptiles and insects, “As the verse states and I am a worm and not a man.”
6. The love is not a true love:
  • Even when the G-dly soul is able to overcome the animal soul and arouse a love for G-d during prayer, this is not a completely true love being that this love dissipates and disappears after the prayer.

(LY)13th  Adar

7. Contemplating the sins of his youth:
  • One is especially able to bring himself towards a broken heart through remembering all of the impurities that he caused to his soul due to the sins that he committed in his youth, and the great blemish that he made in the upper worlds.
  • The blemish exists even today: The upper worlds are above the concept of time and hence it is found that a blemish that took place in the past is considered as if it has actually taken place today heaven forbid.
  • One can always repent more within his heart: Now, even if one has already fully repented for his previous sins, he should still contemplate the sins of his youth, being that the main aspect of repentance is in the heart and the heart contains many different levels and heights. Furthermore, the level of repentance demanded from an individual is all in accordance to his current state, time and place, as is known to those who know [and hence a level of repentance that was acceptable for this individual in the past may no longer be acceptable for this individual in the current time after he has developed and raised his level of righteousness].
  • A sign from heaven that one must repent again on a deeper level: Accordingly, now that one sees that his heart is emotionless and he is unable to ignite within him the light of his G-dly soul, this is a sign that his repentance of the past has no longer been accepted today, and hence his previous sins remain a separation between him and G-d. Alternatively [this may not be a sign that his repentance is no longer acceptable but rather], this is a sign from heaven that they desire from him a higher level of repentance from a greater death of the heart. It is due to this that King David stated, “my sins are always in front of me.”

30th Shevat/(LY)14th Adar 1

8. Contemplating all one’s thoughts, speech, and actions:
  • Even one who is clean of any severe sins from the times of his youth, nonetheless, he too can bring himself to broken heartedness through fulfilling the instructions of the Zohar to constantly calculate one’s spiritual status.
  • From the day that one was born: One should perform a deep introspection of his soul and spiritual state regarding each of his thoughts, speech, and actions, from the day that he was born [and became responsible for his actions] until this day.
  • Thoughts, speech, and action, not for the sake of heaven: He should contemplate whether all of these thoughts, speech and actions came from the side of holiness or from the side of impurity, heaven save us. This refers to any thought, speech, and action, which was not for the sake of heaven, but for the sake of fulfilling His will and worshiping Him. This indeed is the meaning behind the side of evil, which is a side that is not the side of holiness.
  • Thoughts of holiness connect one to the heavenly chambers of holiness: It is well known that whatever a person thinks thoughts of holiness he becomes a chariot at that moment for the chambers of holiness, from which all of these holy thoughts come from.
  • Thoughts of impurity connect one to the heavenly chambers of impurity: The same applies regarding impure thoughts, that one who contemplates impure thoughts at that moment becomes an impure chariot for the chambers of impurity from which all the evil thoughts derive from.
  • The same applies regarding one who speaks or performs actions of good or evil.

(LY)15th Adar 1

9. Contemplating one’s dreams of nonsense and vanity:
  • Another matter that one can contemplate and take to heart [to bring him to a state of broken heartedness] are the many dreams that he has when he sleeps which are filled with vanity and matters of the world.
  • Soul not going above to heaven: These dreams of vanity occur because one’s soul not being elevated above to heaven upon him sleeping, as it states in the verse “who will go out to the mountain of G-d, only those who are of clean hands.”
  • The side of evil attaches to the persons soul during his sleep and causes him to dream nonsense: Now, being that the soul is not going above to heaven during sleep due to its spiritual blemishes, this invites the side of evil to send its forces to attach to him during his sleep. They are the ones who enter into his mind and cause him to dream of matters of vanity and of this world.
  • Nightmares: On occasion, these forces of evil scoff at the person and show him in his dreams matters of deception, and cause him pain during his dream, as written in the Zohar see there in length.

1st Adar

10. The longer the contemplation the more the animal soul is crushed, and the G-dly soul is revealed:

  • Repulsing one’s own life: The longer that one contemplates on the above matters in order to break his heart both in his mind and through reading books on the subject, the more he is able to despise and degrade his own soul to the ultimate state of repulsion, to the point that he actually despises his own life.
  • Degrading the side of evil: Through doing so, he causes also for the side of impurity to become repulsed and despised and brings it down to the dust from its state of haughtiness and arrogance which it had elevated itself over the light of the G-dly soul in order to darken it. [Accordingly, doing the above exercise removes the darkness and concealment of the side of evil from his G-dly soul.]
11. Shouting and screaming at one’s animal soul to crush it:
  • In addition to the above contemplation and research from books, one should also scream and shout at his animal soul, which refers to his evil inclination, in a loud voice, in order to crush it and humble it. This follows the advice of the sages who state that one should always anger his good inclination over his evil inclination, which refers to his animal soul which is the evil inclination.
  • How to admonish the evil inclination: One should scream and admonish his animal soul in his mind by telling it that it is truly evil and wicked, [a selfish narcissist, a gluttonous and lust filled animal] etc. etc. He should tell his animal soul, “For how long will you continue to conceal the light of G-d from me? G-d is found everywhere during all times, past present and future, and is also found right here in this area that I am in just as the infinite light of G-d was found prior to creation without any change at all, and you, putrid one, conceal this existence from me. You continue to conceal this fact and deny the truth which is clearly visible that everything is truly nullified to G-d in a most vivid manner.”

12. The benefit of the above admonishing and crushing of the animal soul:

  • A true seeing of G-d’s unity: The above admonishing of the evil inclination will help remove the concealment of the animal soul from the G-dly soul and allow it to experience the unity of the infinite light of G-d in a real way which is similar to sight and not on the level of hearing and understanding alone.
  • The root of all one’s divine service: Experiencing G-d in a way of sight is the major root of all one’s divine service, [and hence the above exercise to remove the concealment from the G-dly soul and allow it to experience G-d’s unity the form of sight is of much importance].

2nd Adar

13. How crushing the animal soul causes the G-dly soul to once again experience G-d:

  • Evil is like darkness and has no true substance: The reason [that shouting and crushing the animal soul has ability to then reveal the G-dly soul and have it experience G-d] is because the side of evil does not really have any true substance to it at all and is hence referred to as darkness which is simply a lack of light and has no intrinsic substance of its own at all.
  • The moment one shines light the darkness disappears: Now, just as regarding light, the moment one turns the light on in the room the darkness is banished, so too regarding evil the moment when shines the light of good the darkness disappears.
  • How can one say that evil has no substance if it gives vitality to the entire physical world? In truth, the side of evil contains much energy and power as it gives vitality to all living creatures including those from the complete side of evil, including impure animals and Gentiles. [Accordingly, how can one say that evil has no substance?]
  • The energy and life force of evil derives from holiness: [The answer to the above is that] in truth evil contains no intrinsic energy of its own and all of its energy and vitality comes from the side of holiness. Accordingly, it becomes completely nullified in the face of holiness, which is a source of energy, just as darkness becomes nullified once physical light appears.
  • If so, then how can it conceal the G-dly soul-G-d gives the animal soul power to overcome the G-dly soul? [According to the above it is not understood how the animal soul at all has the power to conceal the G-dly soul and prevent it from experiencing G-dliness if we just stated above that on the contrary it becomes completely nullified in face of G-dliness and light, and is not the G-dly soul G-dliness and light? However, in truth the answer is] that regarding the G-dly soul specifically G-d made an exception and allowed the animal soul to conceal it and not be banished in its presence, in order to arouse man to strengthen himself to overcome it, and crush it on his own by humbling himself and destroying his pride to the point that he is repulsive and hideous in his own eyes.
  • If so, then how can crushing it remove its G-d-given power of concealment-Crushing one’s animal soul causes G-d to remove its power to conceal the G-dly soul: [Although G-d himself gives the power to the animal soul to conceal the G-dly soul, and therefore technically this power should remain and the concealment should remain even after one crushes the animal soul, the reason it does not remain is because] when man crushes his own personal animal soul, this causes an arousal above in heaven for G-d to likewise crush and lower the side of evil, and remove the permission he gave to the animal soul to conceal and overcome the holiness of the G-dly soul, and once it’s permission to overpower the G-dly soul is removed as a result of one crushing it, then it returns to its natural state and is nullified and cast away just as darkness is casted away in face of physical light.


14. A source for the above concept from the sin of the Meraglim, and the Jewish resolve and faith expressed after G-d admonished them:

  • How can a complete lack of faith be followed by a complete and pure faith in G-d? Proof for the above concept that crushing the animal soul then in turn automatically reveals the G-dly soul can be found by the episode which discusses the sin of the Meraglim. In the beginning it says that the Jewish people exclaimed disbelief in G-d’s ability to conquer the land of Israel, and hence did not want to go up to Israel at all. Immediately afterwards, however, it says that they themselves decided to go up and conquer Israel on their own even though they did not receive permission from Moses to do so. It does not make any sense as to why they suddenly changed their beliefs regarding G-d’s ability to conquer the land. Nothing happened in between, such as a miracle by Moshe to prove G-d’s ability to do so, and the only thing that happened in between is that Moses told them how G-d became angry with them and swore that [they would be punished by G-d for their lack of faith and that now] they would not enter the land after all. How would this punishment by G-d and His promise not to bring them into the land restore their faith in Him that He can now conquer it, if to begin with they did not believe in the power of G-d conquer the 31 Kings, heaven forbid, and due to this they did not want to enter the land at all.
  • The explanation-A Jew truly believes in G-d’s capability although it is concealed by the side of evil: The explanation to the above question is as follows: Certainly, the Jewish people themselves are believers the son of believers in G-d and his infinite capabilities, however, the side of evil which is invested in their bodies arrogantly raised itself over the light of the holiness of their G-dly soul with a great haughtiness and pride, and an audacity that contains no reason or rationale. [This hovering over the G-dly soul is what concealed this belief and faith in G-d, and hence caused them to express disbelief in G-d’s ability to conquer Israel.]
  • The admonishing by G-d destroyed the concealment caused by the side of evil: However, the moment the G-d angry with them and then admonished them and shouted at them with anger and fury for being such an evil nation, and promised to have them die in the desert, then these somber and morbid words caused their hearts to become humbled and crushed, as the verse states that the nation entered a great state of mourning. This automatically caused the side of evil to lose its control and arrogance and pride with which it was able to conceal the G-dly soul, and hence the natural and intrinsic faith that the Jewish people have in G-d returned to their consciousness.


15. A lesson regarding how to deal with questions on faith in G-d:
  • The questions on faith in G-d derive from the side of evil: From the above story with the Meraglim every Jew can learn a lesson that if a Jew has thoughts of heresy and questions regarding his faith in G-d, in truth, these thoughts are simply coming from the side of evil which is arrogantly raising itself and concealing his natural and instinctive faith in G-d, which every Jew contains.
16. Even the side of evil has true belief in G-d without question:
  • Even the side of evil does not have any questions in its faith in G-d, and it was simply given permission to play devil’s advocate and confuse man below with false arguments and deceiving and manipulative questions, in order to increase man’s reward.
  • The side of evil is like a harlot hired by the king: This is similar to a harlot who was appointed by the king to try and seduce his son with false claims, in order to increase the son’s valuing greatness in the eyes of the king, as part of the Zohar.

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