Beit Midrash

  • Torah Portion and Tanach
  • Noach
To dedicate this lesson

Color My World


Rabbi Stewart Weiss

Cheshvan 3 5781
"The colors of the rainbow, so pretty in the sky; also on the faces of people going by; I see friends shaking hands, saying how do you do? They're only saying I love you.... Louis Armstrong

Our fascinating Sedra includes the description of the rainbow. After the Flood, the Creator promised that in spite of how man might sin, He would never again make a flood that would destroy the world. He created the rainbow as a sign, a reminder of this covenant He made with the world.

"I have put my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between Myself and the world. When I send clouds over the earth, the rainbow will be seen in the clouds, and I will remember the covenant between Myself and yourselves and all living souls, and there will never again be a flood to destroy all life."

The rainbow - a phenomenon combining clouds and colors - is both a positive and negative sign all at once. On the one hand, it indicates that we as a People have sinned; indeed, in generations where there were particularly righteous individuals, like King Chizkiyahu, Rav Shimon bar Yochai and Rav Yehoshua ben Levi, no rainbow ever appeared! On the other hand, it indicates that G-d remembers His promise and is forgiving us. Because of this "mixed blessing," while we do look at the rainbow, we don't keep staring at it. We then say a bracha (combining two Talmudic opinions):

Blessed are You, G d, Ruler of the world, who remembers the covenant, who is faithful to His covenant, and who stands by His word.

There are countless messages to the rainbow: Its many colors may represent the spectrum of people and personalities, all of whom are necessary in G-d's world; it combines light (fire) and water, bringing opposites together; and it is like a bow, but pointing skyward, as if Hashem is saying, "I will absorb the arrow and you will be safe!"

Noting that the rainbow is only half a circle, Rabbi Shlomo Riskin comments: "The rainbow is a half-picture, lacking a second half to complete the circle of wholeness. God can pledge not to destroy humanity, but since God created humanity with freedom of choice, God cannot guarantee that humanity will not destroy itself. That is OUR challenge!"

The Corona crisis is the perfect opportunity to exercise our power of choice and "complete the circle" by following safe rules and protecting one another. What a great privilege we have to join forces with the Almighty and work together to color our world.
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