Parshat Noach: The Message Of A Rainbow

This week, we read Parshat Noach, the second Parshah in the book of Beresheit.

After generations of watching a society of morality decay, Hashem had had enough. He brought about the Great Flood, which only the righteous Noah and his family were saved by entering the ark. After the water subsides, Noah leaves the ark and immediately offers praise to Hashem. Hashem, after receiving these praises, makes the covenant with Noah and the generations following vowing to never bring flood upon the Earth and destroy humanity again.

When making this covenant, Hashem stated: “This is the sign that I have set for the covenant between Me and you, and every living creature for you, for all ages to come. I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall serve as a covenant between Me and the Earth. When I bring clouds over the Earth, and the bow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between Me and you, and every living creature among all flesh, so that the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between Hashem and all living creatures, all flesh that is on Earth. That, shall be the sign of the covenant that I have established between Me and all flesh that is on Earth” (Genesis 9:12-17).

From these verses above, we learn that the Rainbow is a sign that despite the fact there is evil in the world, Hashem remembers his promise. Thus, there is the idea that when a rainbow does not appear for a while, it is a good thing, as there is no sinning to be done.

However, the Malochet, the challenging question found in the text, is why did Hashem choose a rainbow to signify his oath not to destroy humanity?

Nachmanides points out that a rainbow is pointed upwards, just like a bow. He teaches that when warriors have peaceful intentions, they reverse their weapons towards themselves, not the enemy. Therefore, Hashem turns the Rainbow away from humanity and towards the heavens demonstrating that the weapon of water would not be used to destroy Earth.

The Rebbe, though, explains the physical is a reflection of the spiritual. He states that a Rainbow could have appeared before the flood even took place. He explains that the clouds- which are formed by rising mist- were thicker because the world in general was more coarse. After the flood, the clouds became more refined and one could see a rainbow, a sign that man could now refine the coarse materiality of the World.

Therefore, it is no surprise that the Zohar states: “one should not expect the coming of Moshiach until the rainbow is seen . . . in shining colors” (Zohar 1:72B).

Overall, the lesson is: The Rainbow will not shine its full colors until we, the Jewish people, step up and say: We cannot accept this evil that has taken over the world anymore. We strive for light and now it is our responsibility to spread it over the course of our journey.

This week of Parshat Noach, may we remember that when we see a Rainbow, it is our sign that work still needs to be done in the world, so that Moshiach can come and we can lift our voices in a new song and be uplifted with our rejoicing.

Kein Yehi Ratzon, May this be Hashem’s will!





About the Author
Sam Arnold is a student at North Farmington High School. Being raised a conservative Jew, he has found the importance of Prayer and ritual in his daily life. Sam has studied under Cantor Leonard Gutman of Congregation Shaarey Zedek for four years continuously. He also sits on The Jewish Teen Fund Board through the Federation of Metropolitan Detroit. Finally, Sam works with preschool-7th Grade students helping them connect to their Jewish identity and empowering them through ritual and prayer.
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