Kingdom of Priests


Robert Wright is winning praise with his new book, The Evolution of God, suggesting that indeed, our conception of God evolves and improves, even if in all likelihood this also means that God is a figment of our imagination. I haven’t read the book yet. In any event, I was struck this past Rosh Hashanah by our rabbi’s sermon that cited a teaching in the Tanya suggesting that while God is of course unchanging, our conceptions derived from His wisdom do, in a sense, evolve.

It’s taught that way in Epistle 14 of Iggeret HaKodesh. At the end of each year, the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the radiation of Godly Wisdom is withdrawn and then replaced, upon the blowing of the shofar, by a new light revealing supernal Wisdom in a way it hadn’t previously been revealed. The extent of the new revelation depends on our actions and our repentance during the Ten Days of Penitence, which begin on Rosh Hashanah and conclude on Yom Kippur. 
The new revelation passes through a kind of spiritual portal, the Land of Israel, by which it then illuminates the rest of the world. The process of concealment and renewal is hinted at in a few Scriptural verses, including Deuteronomy 11:12: “Forever are the eyes of the Lord your God upon it [i.e., the Land of Israel], from the beginning of the year to the end of the year,” where, in mystical terminology, God’s “eyes” are equated with supernal Wisdom, radiating in yearly bursts (“from the beginning of the year to the end of the year”) that increase in intensity with the passage of years, or at least potentially so. 
It’s possible to see how our grasp of divine Wisdom would then “evolve.” That would account for mystical insights alluded to in Scripture that might not have been apparent on a simple reading of the Biblical text when it was first entrusted to Israel. The Tanya, incidentally, was written in 1796 by Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi.
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