Parshat Noach- The Hidden Rainbow

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(והָיְתָה הַקֶּשֶׁת בֶּעָנָן וּרְאִיתִיהָ לִזְכֹּר בְּרִית עוֹלָם” (בראשית ט’:ט”ז”

Towards the end of this week’s parsha, Hashem makes a ברית (covenant) with Noach and his descendants and all surviving living beings never to destroy the world ever again, which is represented by the rainbow (קשת). The use of a rainbow as the symbol of this ברית is very interesting because a rainbow usually appears after a rainstorm, which could potentially have been the beginning of another flood. By the storm ending in a קשת and not a flood, we are reminded of why there will never be another מבול- because Hashem loves us and wants to remind us who is running the world. Some of the פסוקים discuss the significance of the rainbow as a symbol for this covenant:

אבן עזרא teaches that the end of the flood brought a new creation to the world- the rainbow. Before, the מבול, there had never been a קשת before. As part of this ברית, Hashem created the atmospheric conditions which cause rainbows, and therefore created this seemingly unnatural creation to help teach a lesson to the people of the world.

Rav Shimshon Rafael Hirsch brings down a deeper idea. He teaches that the rainbow, along with the rest of the world, had been created during בריאת העולם (the seven days of creation). This unique creation, which previously had no significance beyond its natural implications, took on a whole new meaning after the Flood: to remind us that no matter how bad the future looks, G-d will always take care of us and guide us through our צרות. Rav Hirsch’s idea teaches us that there are parts of the עולם הטבע (natural world) that can have very critical lessons we can learn from them.

Last Tuesday and Wednesday, we celebrated ראש חודש מרחשון. On the surface, Rosh Chodesh is merely a humble minor celebration. However, if we apply the lesson we learned from the rainbow, we can see a connection between ראש חדש and the קשת. Like the rainbow, the New Moon is a natural and predictable part of our lives- it waxes and wanes over a 29-30 day cycle. Even though the moon was created fourth day of creation and it probably had waxed and waned many times before we are instructed about “החודש הזה” in פרשת בא, accordingly, like the rainbow, ראש חודש also has a deeper meaning to us. The message of the New Moon is to take the passage of time seriously and to give meaning to each day.

We should be zoche to become more sensitive to the Yad Hashem in the seemingly natural parts of our lives so we can appreciate the lessons Hashem is trying to teach us and become closer with Him.