A Lesson from the Rainbow

This coming Shabbat, we read about Noah and the Flood. At the end, God gives us a rainbow, as a sign. Following is a lovely modern midrash by Rabbi John Rosove, on the meaning of the rainbow. May it inspire!

God looked out upon creation and saw violence and chaos engulfing humankind and the earth…God found one [righteous] man named Noah, and he told him to build an ark, save his own family and two of every creature, for the rest would be destroyed…God then spoke to Noah:

‘…Look now and see the cleansed earth. The world is once again new. There is no rage nor hatred, violence nor hubris corrupting the human heart. I will make with you a covenant marked by a sign that will remind us both how I created the world in peace, destroyed it, and allowed it to begin anew that it might be a place of love and peace.

The sign of this covenant will be a smile that will stretch across the heavens and fill the sky. It will be an arc of light shining through the flood waters, a vision of loveliness that will inspire love and awe for Me. This promise, Noah, shall be called the ‘rainbow,’ and it will be My promise that never again will such devastation engulf the earth…’

Then God bent towards the earth and stretched the Divine arm across the sky and formed an arc. Where God’s hand had been there appeared a sheltering bow of every color spread out across a blue canvas of sky. And God spoke of the colors and the sign of the rainbow:

‘First comes red for the blood pulsing through human veins that carries My Godly soul and the life of humankind; orange is for the warmth of fire and its power to create, build and improve upon what I created; yellow is for the sun that lights the earth and gives vision to earthly eyes that they might see Me in all things; green is for the leaves of trees, their fruit and the grass that all creatures might feed and be sustained in life; blue is for the sky, sea and rivers that join air and ground and reveal that all is One, divinely linked and a reflection of Me;…violet is for the coming of night when the world rests and is renewed, carrying the hope that all might awake each morning and utter words of thanksgiving and praise.’

God explained to Noah that the rainbow appears to the human eye as a half circle; ‘Do not be fooled! There is more to life than what the eye can see. There is both the revealed and the hidden. The hidden half of the bow extends deep into earth that you and those who yearn for Me might come and discover vision and Truth, and reveal the message of love and peace to all the earth.’

God told Noah, ‘Remember this blessing, My child, and you will remember My promise – Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, zo-cheir ha-brit…Praised are You, Eternal our God, Sovereign of the revealed and the hidden, Who remembers…the covenant.