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    Spiritual & ethical evolution – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. Is there a Jewish attitude to non-physical evolution?

    A. Physical evolution is the subject of a separate discussion, but we can discern at least two other varieties of evolution.

    There is spiritual evolution, about which Rav Kook said: “Gradual evolution is one of the countless ways in which He Who is the Life of the Universe reveals Himself”.

    There is also ethical evolution, whereby humanity becomes more and more moral and responsible.

    Both have a beginning in God and didn’t just germinate. Both processes are within man’s potential, but both have problems with the idea of the survival of the fittest.

    In neither case is the development constant and inexorable, and in both cases events such as the Holocaust threaten both the process of development and the possibility of human history reaching the messianic goal.

    Fortunately Judaism is optimistic enough to believe that God watches over His world and will not let life be cut off prematurely. As the siddur says, “renews daily the work of creation”.

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