What happens if you just don’t care? What if, no matter how many chapters of Tanya you learn, you feel apathetic and lack the emotional connection to prayer? Or to personal self-improvement?

It’s as if the pipes between your mind and heart are clogged, numbing your feelings and leaving you feeling cold towards anything spiritual.

The Alter Rebbe proposes a radical solution—one that should be used sparingly and only when necessary. For it is a bitter pill to swallow.

The apathy is caused by the arrogance of the animal soul, and the only way to break through it is to humble it. Just as tinder and smaller branches will catch fire faster than a very thick log, the ego may need to be “splintered” in order to kindle a spiritual fire.

A reality check will do the job of thawing the ice.

It is humbling to consider that we humans are capable of lusting after things that are forbidden and contrary to G‑d’s will. It is humbling to consider past sins, even ones that we have repented for. It can even be humbling to recall the content of dreams that we have experienced.

This process of intentional humbling deflates the ego and disempowers it from blocking our spiritual endeavors. These thoughts actually bring us to a deeper level of repentance and returning to G‑d, and may even be the reason G‑d caused us to feel apathy in the first place. So that we can get to work lighting a richer spiritual fire.

Tanya Bit: Our feelings of apathy are G‑d’s way to invite us to do a deeper level of repentance.

(Inspired from Chapter 29 of Tanya)