Does anyone know any books / chapters in books that deal specifically with the problem of numbness of heart? I am looking for discussion / teaching on the causes and the remedies for this malady. I am also interested to know some of the reasons why Hashem might afflict someone with this problem.

Many thanks.

P.S. I cannot read Hebrew, so am looking for works in English. Thanks.

  • To clarify, is this what your asking about?: healthline.com/health/feeling-numb
    – Loewian
    Oct 27, 2020 at 15:20
  • @Loewian - yes, emotional numbness sums it up: where the feeling of one’s emotions is diminished. Example: seeking Hashem in exactly the same way as in the past, but not feeling the yirah in one’s heart to the same extent. Or thinking an evil thought but not being as bothered by it because one cannot feel the corresponding emotion.
    – Tom W
    Oct 27, 2020 at 15:57
  • @Loewian - also a sense of being disconnected from others because one cannot feel the emotions of love and hate, and a sense of being disconnected from the world because the things one sees / hears / smells etc. do not affect one to the same extent as in the past.
    – Tom W
    Oct 27, 2020 at 16:22
  • Berne refers to this as exclusion from the Child ago state.
    – The GRAPKE
    Oct 27, 2020 at 23:14
  • Numbness of heart is caused by sin. When we sin, we lose our ability to feel emotion for many reasons, the two primary being that a) we block the feeling of shame, and with that we block everything else and b) we suddenly realise that if we are capable of sin, so is everyone, so we guard our heart from responding emotionally to others for its protection. The cure is teshuva, and tefilla.
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Jan 11, 2023 at 15:39

2 Answers 2


Tanya addresses Numbness of Heart/Timtum Halev in chapters 29-30-31 and here is a link to the text in English: https://www.chabad.org/library/tanya/tanya_cdo/aid/7908/jewish/Chapter-29.htm

  • Thanks, that is just what I was looking for :)
    – Tom W
    Oct 27, 2020 at 20:17
  • @Tom W - Happy it was helpful! The link is not merely a translation, so if you are on your own you can still follow most of it. But now that I checked chapter 29 again, I realize one might need some concepts that were explained earlier to better understand it. I suggests that you go over the text with someone who can clarify earlier terms that the Tanya brings into this chapter.
    – user16403
    Oct 27, 2020 at 21:31
  • Many thanks. I owe you. Is there somewhere I can make a donation to repay you?
    – Tom W
    Oct 27, 2020 at 22:08
  • 1
    Just learning these chapters : )
    – user16403
    Oct 27, 2020 at 22:11
  • I shall do / hear :)
    – Tom W
    Oct 27, 2020 at 22:44

You might want to consider Rabbi Zelig Pliskin's Upgrade Your Mind, Upgrade Your Life by Artscroll.

The blurb reads as follows:

Today, everyone is upgrading. We're upgrading our computers, our phones, our devices. We're making them faster and more effective, so they work at top speed and quality.

Wouldn't it be great if we could also upgrade our lives? We can!

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin shows us how to transform our thoughts and feelings, so we that we will instill a completely new pattern of optimism and confidence into our lives. Each of his 101 "upgrades" includes an affirmation for us to repeat, insights both from classic Torah sources and from Rabbi Pliskin’s extensive work with coaching others, practical tips, and stories to show how people upgraded and improved their lives.

In these upgrades, we will learn simple and effective techniques to help us:

- Focus on progress, not perfection.

- Give ourselves permission to stay calm and not angry.

- Enjoy the process of upgrading our lives.

- Bring out the best in ourselves, and in others.

You keep your devices working in top shape. Shouldn't you do the same for your life? Let Rabbi Pliskin show you how.

He has a chapter there entitled 'I keep upgrading my compassion and empathy' which looks at how to be more sensitive and aware of other's needs through attuning one's sense of feeling for others.

As an afterthought, there is also a very small snippet in Orchos Tzaddikim - The Path of the Righteous which is a book about self-improvement and character development. In the chapter on repentance it talks about how to overcome a 'hardness of the heart'. You can see the excerpt here - A full English version of this book can be purchased here.

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