Rainbows (Keshet)

קשת

Seeing a rainbow creates a sense of enchantment and rainbow colors in the heavens have long stirred the human imagination. A rainbow is not a physical object, but an “optical and meteorological phenomena” that shows us the spectrum of visible light, often dramatically set in the clouds or against a waterfall. The most beautiful natural settings are often the most fertile grounds for rainbows, but their magic can surprise us anywhere, causing us to pause and connect with our surroundings.

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The First Rainbow in the Torah

At the end of the story of the Great Flood (which begins in Genesis 6:9), God declares that the rainbow is a sign of the covenant between God and the entire earth, that God will never again destroy the earth with a cataclysmic flood. God said, "This is the sign of the...

Rainbows in Jewish Mysticism

The rainbow is also a mystical symbol. The prophet Ezekiel, in exile in Babylonia (6th Century BCE), had an ecstatic vision of God and compared the brightness of this vision to the appearance of a rainbow. Ezekiel's vision lead to the association of the rainbow with...

A Blessing for Rainbows

The Sages of the Talmud composed many berachot (blessings) to be recited for nature's wonders and pleasures, including one for seeing a rainbow (a full arc in the sky): Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melekh ha-olam, zokher ha-brit, ve-ne-eman be-vrito ve-kayem at...

Ot: A Sign

by Nessa Rapoport A Friday afternoon in midsummer, the huge sky smudged by mist yet oddly bright. I was on holiday, alone in a cafe overlooking the harbor. My excellent husband had taken the children to swim, lending me that rare gift in a working mother’s life, a...

A Rainbow of Hope

I was off from my own congregation the week after the Holidays and prayed at a lovely Reform temple in the Berkshires. Despite enjoying my break, I felt burdened by a loss of hope around the violent situation in Israel. As I prayed the Amidah, the standing prayer, my...

Rainbow Tallit

Wrapping oneself in a tallit (prayer shawl) for prayer and meditation is a beautiful way to create a sacred space, to feel the embrace of the divine. Not too long ago, all tallitot (Jewish prayer shawls) were white with black, or maybe blue stripes. Rabbi Zalman...

Sunrise Rainbow in Kailua

I awoke in Kailua, the Island of Oahu, Hawaii, to a chorus of tropical birds singing loudly and melodiously, and distant waves in the background. The scent of plumeria and the local varieties of jasmine and gardenia continually perfumed the air. I made my way to the...

Tikkun Olam: A Rainbow of a Community

The rainbow, with it's varied and beautiful refracted hues has become the symbol of diversity, including in our Jewish communities: diversity of gender identity and sexual orientation, race and ethnicity, and physical or intellectual ability, among other factors. The...

Tikkun Olam: Rainbow Covenant

The Rainbow Covenant & the Planet Although we often first learn the story of Noah as children, as if it is just a colorful tale of a floating zoo, it is actually a terrifying story of destruction, chaos, and survival. After Noah, his family, and the animals...

Double Magic

As if rainbows weren't beautiful enough by themselves, an amazing moment of wonder...   See an amazing waterfall rainbow at Yosemite, or return to the Gateway of Rainbows.

Amazing Rainbow at Yosemite

A hike paid off for Rabbi Naomi Levy, with this awesome view of a rainbow amid a waterfall at Yosemite National Park Whilte the rainbow blessing is traditionally for rainbows in the sky, sights like this may evoke a berachah (blessing) for seeing the wonders of...

Sharing Circle: Rainbows

What does the Rainbow symbol mean in your life? Is there a time that a rainbow lifted your spirits to a moment of enchantment or transcendence? Here's my latest: The day our first granddaughter came home from the hospital, a rainbow appeared in the sky over her...