As the waters subside, a magnificent colored arch appears in the heavens as a covenant between God and earth.
But why a rainbow? The sages tell us that the decree of the flood came upon the world as a result of the prevailing robbery and oppression that were rooted in jealousy and hatred. The rainbow is composed of seven colors, each one different from another. Yet, it possesses a magnificent, harmonious appearance. This teaches us that even though man’s thoughts and characters are different, it is possible for human beings to achieve peace and brotherhood. Not everything that is contradictory must bring about dispute and controversy. On the contrary, it is the contrast of the different colors in the rainbow that produce such splendid beauty.
When Avraham confided to God that he was concerned about his progeny, he was assured that not only would his descendents be from his own offspring (not from his servants) but they would also be of good character – like the stars. By using the stars for an example, God showed Avraham what the ideally reciprocal relationship between men should look like. The stars, like the colors of the rainbow, are also different from one another but there exists a beautiful harmony among its multitude. Like the stars, there should be love, peace, and unity between men as, together, they strive to serve God.
In three ways, the Torah makes it abundantly clear that God wishes for a cohesive, peaceful, and harmonious society. The first perspective is exemplified by the rainbow, expounding the view that man was created with a uniform societal goal. In this dimension, it is not individuality that is important but, rather, mankind’s value as a group.
The second dimension addresses the role of man as an individual, only after addressing one’s societal goal. Just as each star has its unique shape, consistency, and energy, each person was created with different appearances, talents, and inclinations. Man must recognize that his very uniqueness creates a goal or mission that only he can fulfill.
Lastly, the third dimension of the perpetually renewing moon teaches us that men – both individually and as members of a group – must constantly pursue higher spirituality through learning, self-discipline, and refining their behavior. God has proclaimed that Israel should be a momlechet kohanim (Kingdom of Priests). And just as a kohen has been selected to dedicate his life to sacred and Divine service, the entire Jewish nation has been selected to serve God. This can only be accomplished by integrating the insights gleaned from the Torah into our daily existence.
From the Torah to Your Table
The Torah does not say, “And Noach, a righteous and whole-hearted man, was left.” The test simply states, “Noach only was left.” (Bereshit 7:23) According to the Midrash, Noach, by doing nothing to persuade his contemporaries to mend their ways, was himself guilty of a sin. He who does not act to make others better descends to a lower level himself. When Noach found that he and his family were the only survivors of the flood, he realized that he was Noach “only”; he was filled with a sense of inadequacy, because he had done nothing to save the others from the fate that befell them.
At your Shabbos table, discuss how you might have remedied the situation had you been Noach and what actions you would take today to “make others better.”
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Candle Lighting Times and Torah Portions
Light Candles at: 6:19 p.m.
Saturday, October 2
Torah Portion: Bereshit (Genesis 1:1-6:8)
Light Candles at: 6:09 p.m.
Saturday, October 9
Torah Portion: Noach (Genesis 6:9-11:32)
Light Candles at: 6 p.m.
Saturday, October 16
Torah Portion: Lech Lecha (Genesis 12:1-17:27)
Light Candles at: 5:52 p.m. 1
Saturday, October 23
Torah Portion: Vayera (Genesis 18:1-22:24)
Light Candles at: 5:45 p.m.
Saturday, October 30
Torah Portion: Chaye Sarah (Genesis 23:1-25:18)