December 11, 2018

A Midrash on the Rainbow

    

God looked upon creation and saw violence, chaos and mean-spirited self-centeredness engulfing every heart. There was neither kindness nor justice in the world. Empathy had ceased. Fear and hatred had replaced peace and love. In an instant God determined to destroy the world and return existence to primordial darkness.

The Eternal God mourned and recalled how great was the effort to create the heavens and earth, give life to growing things, design and fashion the birds, sea creatures and animals in their variety, shape, color, function, and form. That thought grew within the Divine mind. The Creator hesitated and thought thinking how great the tragedy to destroy that which God had called “good.”

God wondered ‘Is there one human on earth, different from the rest, who fathoms Me, who hasn’t been consumed by the sitra achra, the evil that brought darkness to My creation.’

In a blink of the Divine eye, God peered into every human soul seeking that one, better than the rest, who though not yet a complete tzadik might be good enough and able to hear  the Divine voice and save what could be saved.

God found Noah and plucked him out and instructed him to build an ark, to save his family and two of every creature that all might not be lost and the world might begin anew.

As God contemplated the potential devastation Divine tears fell heavily to earth in a torrential downpour that lasted forty days and nights.

When finally God’s tear ducts were dry the waters receded, dry land appeared, and the ark docked. The Eternal God spoke to Noah:

“I am God, Noah, Who created you and brought you into this new land. Look around you and see the cleansed earth. The world is once again new. There is no longer rage nor hatred, violence nor hubris in 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, then destroyed it allowing it to begin anew that it should be a place of peace for all time.

And the sign of this covenant will be a radiant smile stretching across the heavens and filling the sky, an arc of light shining through the flood waters, a vision of loveliness inspiring love for and awe of Me. 

This promise, Noah, shall be called the ‘rainbow,’ and this bow in the sky will remind you, your progeny and Me that I will never again bring such devastation to the earth. 

Your duty and the duty of your children and children’s children must be to protect My creation, to preserve and nurture it, for there will come no one after you to set it right if you destroy it.”

God bent towards the earth and stretched the Divine arm across the sky and created an arc. Where God’s hand had been appeared a sheltering bow of every color spread across the blue canvas of sky.

And God spoke of the colors and the rainbow sign:

“First comes red to stand for the blood pulsing through human veins that carries My Godly soul and makes all things live; orange is for the comforting warmth of fire and its potential to create, build and improve upon what I created; yellow is for the glory of the sun that lights the earth and gives vision to earthly souls that they might see Me in all things and live; green is for the grass and the leaves of trees and their fruit, that all creatures might be sustained in life; blue is for the sky, sea and rivers that joins air and ground and makes clear that all is One, divinely linked and a reflection of Me; indigo appears each day at dusk and dawn to signal evening and morning, the passage of time and the seasons, the ever renewing life force that is intrinsic to all things; violet is for the coming of night when the world rests and is renewed, and it carries the hope that all might awake in the 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, my most righteous one! There is more to life than what the eye can see. There is both the revealed and the hidden, and the hidden half of the bow reaches deep into earth that you and those who yearn after Me might come and discover Truth, and reveal and make whole the revealed and the hidden in My world.”

Remember this blessing, My child, and you will remember My promise – Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, zocheir habrit v’neeman biv’rito v’kayam b’maamaro – Praised are You, Eternal God, Sovereign of the revealed and the hidden, Who remembers, is faithful to and fulfills the Divine covenant and promise.”

Written by Rabbi John Rosove and inspired by classic Midrashim