Thursday, January 22, 2009

Why Rainbows did not exist before the Flood

The rainbow is shaped like an archer's bow. The Nevi'im tell us that when Moshiach comes, the Keshet or bow will no longer be an instrument of battle and death, it will be used to help mankind sustain life by working the ground.

Similarly, says Rabbi Yehonoson Eibushitz, when Hashem is battling us, Chas V'Shalom, the bow would be facing downwards to the earth, to shoot arrows. His promise after the Mabul is that if He wants to battle us, he will flip the bow upside down. This shows that we are the ones fighting Hashem but in his mercy he will not punish us.

The rainbow, says Rabbi Yehonosson Eibushitz, is a natural phenomenon made up of dirty cloudy air, struck by the rays of the sun. These two elements symbolize a human being's two main excuses for failure to live up to his mission in life of keeping torah and mitzvos.

First is that we are made of earth which dirties and clouds our pure and clean neshama. Our second excuse is that we were born with bad mazal. Our inborn traits prevent us from doing Hashem's will. Mazal is represented by the sun. Therefore when Hashem is angry, He looks at the rainbow and consoles himself over human failings and does not vent His wrath upon us.

Before the Mabul the air was always crisp and clear. A rainbow was not possible. Only after the Mabul when the atmosphere became less pure was a natural rainbow possible.

from the writings of Rabbi Yehonosson Eibushitz