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The Rainbow and the Matrix

06/16/2022 07:14:13 PM


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I’m not sure why the story of Noah’s Ark has more often been understood as a children’s tale. How many of us remember, “Rise and shine and give God your glory glory! There’s gonna be a floody, floody…so Noah built an arky, arky of hickory barky, barky…and then the animals got on by twosies, twosies…until everything was hunky dory.” This is a lovely and fun song, but unfortunately most folks’ understanding of this story begins and ends here, and that is not hunky dory. Because the power of this story is in the promise that God makes following the flood and the Jewish people’s response in return. Once the rain has stopped and the survivors have returned to dry land, God says:

The rainbow that I have put in the sky will be My sign to you and to every living creature on earth. It will remind you that I will keep this promise forever. When I send clouds over the earth, and a rainbow appears in the sky, I will remember my promise to you and to all other living creatures. Never again will I let floodwaters destroy all life. When I see the rainbow in the sky, I will always remember the promise that I have made to every living creature. The rainbow will be the sign of that solemn promise. (Genesis 2:12-17)

And the blessing that we Jews are taught to proclaim in response to the rainbow is:

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam Zo-cheir ha-brit v’ne-eman bi-vri-to v’ka-yam b’ma’amaro.

Blessed are You, Adonai, our God, Ruler of the universe Who remembers the covenant, is faithful to the covenant, and keeps the promise.

Why do you think that God needs a reminder? Why is there so much repetition in this pronouncement of God’s intentions? And what is it about a rainbow that is meant to inspire love and tolerance and kindness and maybe even embrace?

The rainbow is a subsequent development of creation. We don’t learn of a rainbow prior to this moment in the Torah: Dare I say, it is such a powerfully beautiful image that had it existed in the Torah writers’ minds, it would have appeared somewhere in the seven days of creation. Now this may be a chiddush (midrashic innovation) too far, but it’s my midrash, so there! Whether that is true or not, the response to the rainbow, that of God’s and our own, is what matters. For what is a rainbow but the precise opposite of a uniformity very much lacking in the chaos of the world, which God “tries” to snuff out at first by confounding tongues at the Tower of Babel, and then ultimately through drowning us in the sea. Our unified language leads us to conspire to attempt to storm the heavens, and then God reigns down a storm upon us. 

But neither of these efforts works. And they almost entirely decimate our existence, not exactly great for business if Your business is creation. Instead, God has to learn that if this whole human being thing is to matter, then we need to be left alone to manifest in the infinite array of possibilities that come to be when God’s supernal light refracts through the prism of creation. What begins on one side as a unified but unattainable, unknowable ray of creative light becomes the particularness of each one of us. 

And so in that moment, when we are struck with the appearance of a rainbow, we are to see it as a momentary revelation of the divine code that undergirds our lives. It is a reminder that there are a myriad of possible ways by which life presents itself in love, union, connection, and experience. And that as long as our actions do not interrupt that divine flow of love, but even enhance and magnify it, we AND God are affirming the covenant that chaos may very well be in the eye of the beholder. 

Pride is a recognition that all of us are called to fulfill our essence. Discovering it, understanding it, and embracing it can at times be the toughest part. But it is everything and so it is the Divine Right of all. Let our love flow from the supernal light of creation, into and out of our unique form of it, in order to inspire and shine light upon and for others, for our fulfillment is diminished when others are not allowed to enlighten. 

Mon, February 26 2024 17 Adar I 5784