How to say rainbow in Hebrew

Every catastrophe we learn of brings us before our eyes a reality that could repeat itself in a similar way. Only Noah's family survived the flood in the ark, and it can be assumed that everyone at the time was very concerned.

To reassure the survivors, the Eternal addressed them: “I now, behold, I establish my covenant with you and with your seed after you. And with all that breathes life that is with you in the form of birds, cattle and all animals on earth with you, from all those who come out of the ark, for all animals on earth. And I will establish my covenant with you, and from now on all flesh shall not be destroyed from the waters of the flood, and from now on there shall not be a flood to destroy the earth ”(Genesis 9: 9-11).

Brit In order to make this covenant (Hebrew: Brit) visible again and again, God lays down a sign: “This is the sign of the covenant that I set between me and you and all those who breathe life, those with you, for eternity . I will set my bow in the cloud and be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth ”(Genesis 9: 12-13).

Rabbi Benno Jacob (1862–1945) rightly stated that the rainbow as a federal symbol has no parallel. Other signs such as the shop threads and the tefillin are made by humans at God's behest. Rabbi Jacob writes: "The rainbow is not made by people, and they should not look at it to be reminded of a duty." The first half of the sentence is certainly correct, but the second half of the sentence is questionable in my opinion.

How did the vaunted exegete come up with the idea that people shouldn't look at the rainbow to be reminded of a duty? Rabbi Benno Jacob would certainly refer to verse 16, which translates as follows: “And the bow will be in the clouds, and I will look at it to commemorate the eternal covenant between God and all living beings in all flesh, that is on earth. "

However, this translation is not without its problems. The objection was raised in Jizchak Abarbanel's (1437–1509) commentary on the Torah: Does the Eternal need a sign to remember the covenant He has made? Of course not! According to Rabbi Jakob Zwi Mecklenburg (1785–1865) the correct translation of the verse is: "And the bow will be in the clouds, and I have chosen it so that one may remember the eternal covenant." So it is the people who to be reminded of the covenant by the rainbow!

Obligations If a covenant is to be understood as a contract with mutual obligations, the question arises: What does the covenant have to do with people? Rabbi Salman Sorotzkin (1881–1966) explains in his work Osnajim Latora that the rainbow reminds people that the Eternal punishes sins (as happened in the generation of the Flood). Therefore, man should immediately do Teshuvah (repentance). The covenant symbol reminds people of the duty to repent. Since the covenant was made with all mankind after the Flood, we can conclude that Teshuvah is also required of non-Jews. The correctness of this thesis is proven by the commission given to the prophet Jonah, who was supposed to persuade the non-Jewish inhabitants of Nineveh to repent.

The rainbow chosen as the covenant symbol has been interpreted in various ways. Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch (1808–1888) relies on the view of Nachmanides (1194–1270): »The sign is an inverted bullet, a bow turned with the string towards the earth, thus a sign of peace: no more arrow from heaven . It appears as an arch connecting heaven and earth, thus as a bond between heaven and earth. ”Indeed, a fitting image for the covenant proclaimed after the flood.

In the Torah commentary by Rabbi Chiskija Ben Manoach (1250-1310), also called Chiskuni, the rainbow is viewed from a different perspective. He sees a reference to the glory of God in the colorful rainbow. As the prophet Jecheskel says: “Like the rainbow that usually appears in the clouds on a rainy day, the shine could be seen all around. Such was the appearance of the glory of the Lord ”(1:28). In the rainbow we see, so to speak, a reflection of the glory of God who has made a Brit with men.

Although the Brit was made with Noah and his descendants in the pre-Israelite period, it is noteworthy that this covenant still plays a role in Jewish religious life today. In every Siddur there is a blessing (Bracha), which is to be recited at the sight of a rainbow: “Praise you, Eternal, our God, King of the world, who remembers the covenant and is faithful to his covenant and remains firm in his promise. “By reciting this Bracha, we make it clear from time to time what significance the Torah ascribes to the rainbow in the clouds.

For our daily practice, a question of relevance is raised by Rabbi Israel Meir Hakohen Kagan (1839–1933), author of the halachic work Mishnah Berura, in his commentary on Orach Chajim, chapter 229: Should one only then use the aforementioned bracha recite when someone has seen the whole rainbow, or again when one could only see part of it? What should we do if half of the rainbow is covered by a building, for example?

Rabbi Kagan leaves this question open. Rabbi Mosche Sternbuch (born 1926) decided that, as in every case of doubt, one should not say the Bracha under such circumstances.

Staring In the popular Kizzur Shulchan Aruch codex (Chapter 60.4) there is a strange rule: "One must not look at the rainbow for long." In the confession of sin of Rav Amram Gaon, who lived in the 9th century, this sin is also listed. The question arises: Why are we not allowed to look at a beautiful rainbow for a long time?

An explanation for the prohibition of staring can be found in the Talmud Chagiga (16a). In the Mishnah it says at this point: "Whoever does not spare the honor of his Creator, it would be better for him not to have been born." According to Rabbi Abba, this Mishnah means the case in which someone looks at the rainbow for a long time. For the prophet Jecheskel says: “Like the rainbow that usually appears in the clouds on a rainy day, the shine could be seen all around. This is how the appearance of the Lord's glory was to be seen. ”This passage from the Talmud is likely to be the source for Chiskuni's interpretation of the rainbow cited above.

The author is a psychologist and has taught at the University of Cologne. Most recently, he published the book “Linking Points” (2010).

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The week segment Noah tells of the decision of the Eternal to flood the earth. The water is supposed to destroy all life and only spare Noah. He is supposed to build an ark on which he can retreat with his family and a couple of every kind of animal. This is how new life awakens after the flood. The Eternal places a rainbow in the clouds as a symbol of his first covenant with people. They begin to build the city of Babel and erect a tower that reaches into heaven. But the Eternal thwarted their plan.
1. Book of Moses 6: 9-11: 32