Midreshet Amit


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The Gift of the Rainbow

By: Golda Valensi & Tamar Hadad

The word “covenant” or “brit” appears for the first time in the beginning of this week’s Parasha, Noach. As Hashem says to Noach, “All that is in this earth will die. But I shall establish my covenant with you, and you will come into the ark”. The Ramban interprets this to mean that Hashem is promising Noach for the first time that he will save both him and his family from the flood, and this promise is composed in the language of “establishing a covenant”. However, there is a repetition of this expression at the end of this Parasha, after the flood is terminated. Hashem says “ and I will establish my covenant with you, and all flesh will no longer be cut off by the waters of the floor, nor will there be another flood to destroy earth”. Hashem is expanding the “protection” which was provided within the ark to the dimensions of the entire world. Just as Noach and his family was saved from the flood by virtue of the covenant that Hashem established with them, so too mankind will subsequently benefit from this covenant and Hashem will never bring another flood to obliterate them. The personal promise given through this covenant, however, is not sufficient, so Hashem creates a sign to represent it. Hashem states
זאת אות הברית אשר אני נתן ביני וביניכם —- את קשת נתתי בענן והיתה לאות ברית ביני ובין הארץ”- meaning “this is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you. I have set my bow in this cloud and it shall be a token of a convening between me and the earth”. The rainbow is a phenomenon created in nature as a “reminder” not to bring another flood to destroy earth. Obviously, this cannot be taken literally, as G-d needs no reminders. Rather, it can be understood that the rainbow represents a calming signal to humanity, reminding us that we, the people, need not to fear another flood. The rainbow is a combination of justice and mercy. On one hand it reminds us of mankind’s sin and the punishments we suffered as a result of them, yet on the other hand it signifies G-d's promise not to annihilate mankind. This combination of justice and mercy is a reflection of the light of Hashem. Hashem didn’t create the rainbow because violence had disappeared from the world or because mankind had been purified of sin but because of his mercy and patience, which he continuously shows us throughout our lives.

Shabbat Shalom!