Hard Heart or Soft Heart


In some places (like Mishlei 3:3 and 7:3) our hearts are compared to luchot, tablets, on which one should enscribe the words of HaShem. In another places our hearts should be circumcised (Devarim 10:16) which seems to be about cutting of our evil affections (Yirmiyahu 4:4) (see also Devarim 30:6), to remove wickedness.

Yet again in other verses (like Ezekiel 11:19, 36:27) it says the heart of stone will be replaced by the heart of flesh: Rabbi Levi in the name of Rabbi Hama bar Hanina said: “G-d’s laws are called hukkim because they are engraved (hakukim) as a safeguard against the Yetzer Hara (the evil inclination).” Rabbi Levi elaborated: “This can be compared to an outpost threatened by brigands. What did the king do? He sent a guard to protect it. So, too, the Holy One Blessed be He said: The Torah is a rock and the Evil Inclination is a rock. The Torah (a harder rock) will defend against the Evil Inclination (a less hard rock) – ‘’I will remove the heart of stone from your body.”

All of these seem to talk about our hearts, the words of Torah which should be on them, and the evil inclination which should be removed from them. So what I would like to know is:

What’s the difference, and what is the common denomitor, between a heart that needs to be engraved/written on, a heart that needs to be circumcised and a heart that needs to be transformed into a heart of flesh. And what should one learn from this?

2 years


  1. I am not sure that there is an obvious connection between them all. The various verses are all to be understood in context and each one is defining a different dimension of the spiritual capabilities of the heart. That is why the heart can be described as three very different concepts.

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team