The Rainbow Connection

Why are there so many songs about rainbows and what's on the other side?

Rainbows are visions but only illusions and rainbows have nothing to hide.
So we've been told and some choose to believe it.
I know they're wrong wait and see.
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection.
The lovers, the dreamers and me.

(The Muppets Movie 1979)

(ח) וַיֹּ֤אמֶר אֱלֹקִים֙ אֶל־נֹ֔חַ וְאֶל־בָּנָ֥יו אִתּ֖וֹ לֵאמֹֽר׃ (ט) וַאֲנִ֕י הִנְנִ֥י מֵקִ֛ים אֶת־בְּרִיתִ֖י אִתְּכֶ֑ם וְאֶֽת־זַרְעֲכֶ֖ם אַֽחֲרֵיכֶֽם׃ (י) וְאֵ֨ת כָּל־נֶ֤פֶשׁ הַֽחַיָּה֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר אִתְּכֶ֔ם בָּע֧וֹף בַּבְּהֵמָ֛ה וּֽבְכָל־חַיַּ֥ת הָאָ֖רֶץ אִתְּכֶ֑ם מִכֹּל֙ יֹצְאֵ֣י הַתֵּבָ֔ה לְכֹ֖ל חַיַּ֥ת הָאָֽרֶץ׃ (יא) וַהֲקִמֹתִ֤י אֶת־בְּרִיתִי֙ אִתְּכֶ֔ם וְלֹֽא־יִכָּרֵ֧ת כָּל־בָּשָׂ֛ר ע֖וֹד מִמֵּ֣י הַמַּבּ֑וּל וְלֹֽא־יִהְיֶ֥ה ע֛וֹד מַבּ֖וּל לְשַׁחֵ֥ת הָאָֽרֶץ׃ (יב) וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֱלֹקִ֗ים זֹ֤את אֽוֹת־הַבְּרִית֙ אֲשֶׁר־אֲנִ֣י נֹתֵ֗ן בֵּינִי֙ וּבֵ֣ינֵיכֶ֔ם וּבֵ֛ין כָּל־נֶ֥פֶשׁ חַיָּ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר אִתְּכֶ֑ם לְדֹרֹ֖ת עוֹלָֽם׃ (יג) אֶת־קַשְׁתִּ֕י נָתַ֖תִּי בֶּֽעָנָ֑ן וְהָֽיְתָה֙ לְא֣וֹת בְּרִ֔ית בֵּינִ֖י וּבֵ֥ין הָאָֽרֶץ׃ (יד) וְהָיָ֕ה בְּעַֽנְנִ֥י עָנָ֖ן עַל־הָאָ֑רֶץ וְנִרְאֲתָ֥ה הַקֶּ֖שֶׁת בֶּעָנָֽן׃ (טו) וְזָכַרְתִּ֣י אֶת־בְּרִיתִ֗י אֲשֶׁ֤ר בֵּינִי֙ וּבֵ֣ינֵיכֶ֔ם וּבֵ֛ין כָּל־נֶ֥פֶשׁ חַיָּ֖ה בְּכָל־בָּשָׂ֑ר וְלֹֽא־יִֽהְיֶ֨ה ע֤וֹד הַמַּ֙יִם֙ לְמַבּ֔וּל לְשַׁחֵ֖ת כָּל־בָּשָֽׂר׃ (טז) וְהָיְתָ֥ה הַקֶּ֖שֶׁת בֶּֽעָנָ֑ן וּרְאִיתִ֗יהָ לִזְכֹּר֙ בְּרִ֣ית עוֹלָ֔ם בֵּ֣ין אֱלֹקִ֔ים וּבֵין֙ כָּל־נֶ֣פֶשׁ חַיָּ֔ה בְּכָל־בָּשָׂ֖ר אֲשֶׁ֥ר עַל־הָאָֽרֶץ׃ (יז) וַיֹּ֥אמֶר אֱלֹקִ֖ים אֶל־נֹ֑חַ זֹ֤את אֽוֹת־הַבְּרִית֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר הֲקִמֹ֔תִי בֵּינִ֕י וּבֵ֥ין כָּל־בָּשָׂ֖ר אֲשֶׁ֥ר עַל־הָאָֽרֶץ׃ (פ)

(8) And God said to Noah and to his sons with him, (9) “I now establish My covenant with you and your offspring to come, (10) and with every living thing that is with you—birds, cattle, and every wild beast as well—all that have come out of the ark, every living thing on earth. (11) I will maintain My covenant with you: never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” (12) God further said, “This is the sign that I set for the covenant between Me and you, and every living creature with you, for all ages to come. (13) I have set My bow in the clouds, and it shall serve as a sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. (14) When I bring clouds over the earth, and the bow appears in the clouds, (15) I will remember My covenant between Me and you and every living creature among all flesh, so that the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. (16) When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures, all flesh that is on earth. (17) That,” God said to Noah, “shall be the sign of the covenant that I have established between Me and all flesh that is on earth.”

(א) הרואה הקשת אומר בא"י אמ"ה זוכר הברית נאמן בבריתו וקיים במאמרו. ואסור להסתכל בו ביותר:

(1) One who sees the rainbow says, "Blessed are you, God our Lord, king of the world, who remembers the covenant, who is faithful to his covenant, and who fulfills his word." But it is forbidden to stare at it.

"את קשתי נתתי", קישותי, דבר שהוא מקש לי! אפשר כן!?!? אלא קשין דפירי.

Bereshit Rabbah 35

"My Rainbow I will set"... don't read Rainbow (קשתי) rather read Likeness (קישותי), an object which is like me! Is it possible to read the text this way? Yes- in that the rinds of a fruit are similar to the fruits itself. So it is with the Rainbow and the Glory of God.

(Credit to Tzvi H. Haber)

Rav Moshe Shapiro in the name of the Vilna Gaon, explains:

When God created the world, it was as an act of benevolence, to do good for people. So the system was set up in a way which God would initiate and bless humanity, and the people would follow the commandments. However, the danger with such a system is that there is no room for human initiation! And if people do evil, it creates an atmosphere of evil in the world. Which creates a problem- because God doesn't want to bless an evil world. So God said ‘nichamti’ I regret the way I set up the world. Not that God regretted creating the world, but rather the rules of operation.

Therefore God brought the flood, which served to purify and cleanse the world. Now, after the flood, God made new rules. People would have to initiate in their relationship with God and effect the blessings coming down onto themselves. It would be a human sponsored system, where people determine what merit would come down to them.

Much like the rain cycle, good pure water creates good enriching rain. Contaminated water makes bad (acid) rain. This is what it means for the rainbow to be a symbol. Rainbows are generally caused by the mist going back up to the heavens. That is the new dynamic. The Rainbow starts from us.

זאת אות הברית אשר אני נותן

מזה להראות שלא יורו בו מן השמים!

וכן דרך הנלחמים. להפוך אותו בידם ככה כאשר יקראו לשלום למי שכנגדם.

Ramban: Genesis 12

This is the sign which I set...

God made it the opposite of this to show that God would not shoot at the earth from Heaven! And this is also the way of warriors. When they call out for peace from their enemies, they too hold their weapons upside down in their hands.

היו לו לרבי עקיבא מגבת עד אנטיפרס וכולן מתו בפרק אחד מפני שלא נהגו כבוד זה לזה

Rabbi Akiva had twelve thousand pairs of students in an area of land that stretched from Gevat to Antipatris in Judea, and they all died in one period of time, because they did not treat each other with respect.

אזל אשכחיה לר' שמעון בן יוחאי דהוה יתיב על תלת עשר תכטקי פיזא אמר ליה את הוא בר ליואי אמר ליה הן נראתה קשת בימיך אמר ליה הן אם כן אי אתה בר ליואי ולא היא דלא הואי מידי אלא סבר לא אחזיק טיבותא לנפשאי
Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi went and found in paradise Rabbi Shimon ben Yoḥai sitting on thirteen golden stools [takhtekei]. Rabbi Shimon ben Yoḥai said to him: Are you the son of Levi? He said to him: Yes. Rabbi Shimon said to him: Was a rainbow ever seen in your days? He said: Yes. Rabbi Shimon retorted: If so, you are not the son of Levi, as he is a completely righteous man. During the lifetimes of completely righteous people no rainbows are visible, as they are a sign that the world deserves to be destroyed by a flood; whereas the merit of the righteous protects the world from such things. The Gemara comments: And that is not so, for there was no rainbow seen at all during the lifetime of Rabbi Yehoshua, but he thought: I do not want to take credit for myself by presenting myself as such a righteous person.

(יח) לֹֽא־תִקֹּ֤ם וְלֹֽא־תִטֹּר֙ אֶת־בְּנֵ֣י עַמֶּ֔ךָ וְאָֽהַבְתָּ֥ לְרֵעֲךָ֖ כָּמ֑וֹךָ אֲנִ֖י ה'

(18) You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your countrymen. Love your fellow as yourself: I am the LORD.

Ve·a·hav·ta le·rei·a·cha ka·mo·cha

Love each one as you love yourself.