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In reading these psukim, we see how Hashem provides the rainbow as a sign of His Brit not to destroy the world. But the psukim raise a number of questions: First, how and why does the rainbow constitute a "brit", a covenant, "reminding" Hashem not to destroy the world? Second, why is the idea of the rainbow repeated so many times in these psukim?


Psukim - explain whom Hashem is forging this covenant with and what it is about. Psukim - explain that the rainbow is the covenant.


Third, even in the bracha that we make when we see the rainbow, we have the same idea repeated three times: .


The Ramban cites the Mahari describing the customary behavior of soldiers who used to fight with the bow and arrow as their weapon. When in combat, they would aim the bow toward the opposing soldiers and fire the arrow accordingly, and when the fighting was over, as a sign of cease-fire, they would aim the bows toward themselves. In the same way, Hashem has just destroyed the world. Now, as a sign of "cease-fire" as it were, to show that the aggression toward the world was over, Hashem was "aiming" His bow at Himself - upwards.


The Midrash Raba, also cited by the Ramban, provides a different explanation. The Midrash reads the term " " as originating in the term "" meaning "analogy", and explains the rainbow as being analogous to Hashem. The Midrash explains the "analogy" by citing Yechezkel Perek Alef, where the Navi describes the vision of Hashem as " ' " . In his vision, Yechezkel compares Hashem to the rainbow, and the Midrash takes this comparison and uses it here. But is this possible? The Midrash says that this analogy is that the rainbow is as the peel of a fruit, while Hashem is as the fruit. Hashem is the "ikar", while the rainbow is the "tafel".


Scientists raise a fundamental question on all of this. The rainbow is a natural occurrence that happens when sunlight is defracted by water droplets, causing the light to break up into its component colors. This is a natural phenomenon that existed long before Noach and the flood, and long before Hashem's promise. What, therefore, is the new development in putting a rainbow in the clouds? The claim cannot be made that the rainbow was only a sign of Hashem's covenant with Noach.


Our commentaries reconcile all of this in a number of ways. First, it is true that the rainbow existed beforehand, but now, with Hashem's covenant to Noach, the rainbow was given its spiritual significance. The Ramban notes that the term in Pasuk is - I have put; I provided - in the past tense. The rainbow had already been provided. It was not something Hashem was creating as a chiddush here.


Second - according to the Kli Yakar, beforehand, the clouds were so thick and dark that the light of the sun could not penetrate sufficiently to cause a rainbow. Yes, the physical possibility of a rainbow existed, but mankind on the ground never saw one because of the thickness and darkness of the clouds. But following the flood, Hashem made the air clearer and the clouds thinner. This was part of the decision to never bring about a worldwide flood again - since the clouds were now thinner, such a flood had become impossible. Now, the sunlight could break through and create a rainbow through the thinner, clearer clouds.


Third - the sunlight had become clearer, thus allowing the rainbow to be seen.


All three methods of reconciliation point to one thing - that the light of the sun breaks through the clouds and brightens the darkness the clouds bring. That is what creates a rainbow.


So why is this analogous to Hashem? When a person receives punishment or hardship, he generally feels the pain that they cause. If a child's father gives him a punishment, the child will feel the pain inflicted by the punishment. But if the child also sees the love in his father's eyes, or feels his father soothing him with the other hand, the child will take from that an understanding that the punishment is due to the love that his father feels for him and from the father's desire for the good of the child.


This is the way Hashem operates as well. The Torah in Parshat Ekev describes open rebuke with hidden love:

. :


This fundamental idea is revealed through the rainbow. Within the gloom and darkness of the cloud, there are the sparks of sunshine - the light and warmth behind the gloom. This itself shows that the gloom is basically for our own good. This is also the principle behind the defraction of the light into its various colors. All of the colors are the various different elements of our existence and of our behavior. And they all come together to comprise one bigger picture. They come to show that Hashem runs the world with many different shades, some of which are even opposites of each other, and they all comprise one larger whole.


A father who loves his son and desires what is good for him will also act in different ways under different circumstances, some of which may be opposites at times, but all of these show a tremendous love for the child in various different ways.


Thus the rainbow is analogous of Hashem's ways of running the world. His love is revealed to us in many different ways - some of which are more hidden, and some are more obvious.


The Netziv lays out a map for us to understand the psukim above. Puskim yud-bet and yudgimmel are a general statement - the rainbow is the sign of the covenant. Psukim yud-dalet and tet-vav speak of when the clouds are in the sky and the rainbow is glimpsed " ". This signifies just for a brief glimpse - a short time. This shows that there is great darkness, but it will not bring about total destruction because the love behind the tool is visible, even if only for a short time. Thus we see " " . And in pasuk tet-zayin, we have the word "" signifying a longer period. If you see the rainbow for a prolonged period, this is a bigger revelation of Hashem's love, and is based on His remembrance of the everlasting covenant, not just a prevention of destruction for the time being. Lastly, in pasuk yud-zayin, even if the rainbow is not seen on the ground, Hashem still fulfills the covenant, and His love exists even though it is hidden.


The bracha that we make has the same three levels:

- is the simplest level. Hashem remembers the covenant and the rainbow is visible for a short time.

- Hashem and His covenant are trustworthy. He doesn't just remember it at this point in time, but He stands by it throughout time, remaining faithful to His covenant and uses it to lead the world to improvement. It is a sign to us to improve so that we can be worthy of His covenant.

- Hashem fulfills his word even when we can't see the rainbow. The word "" the begins pasuk yud-zayin is the that is referred to here. "This is the sign of My covenant" - even if you can't see it, I will fulfill it.


The Zohar in Parshat Noach (59) says that right now, the rainbow is show in darker shades. This is as a reminder that there will be no more floods. But in the future, the rainbow will be seen in clearer, brighter shades to signify that Hashem is remembering the Everlasting Covenant and fulfilling this Brit by having His Shechina shining on the world. May we merit to see this.