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Sukkat Shalom B'nei Noach



וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֗ים זֹ֤את אֽוֹת־הַבְּרִית֙ אֲשֶׁר־אֲנִ֣י נֹתֵ֗ן בֵּינִי֙ וּבֵ֣ינֵיכֶ֔ם וּבֵ֛ין כׇּל־נֶ֥פֶשׁ חַיָּ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר אִתְּכֶ֑ם לְדֹרֹ֖ת עוֹלָֽם׃

G-d 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.

Genesis 9:12

This is the basic reason why Noahides use the rainbow as their symbol. It is the symbol given by G-d Himself as a sign of the covenant between Him and the people of this world.

G-d promises the following in this covenant:

וַהֲקִמֹתִ֤י אֶת־בְּרִיתִי֙ אִתְּכֶ֔ם וְלֹֽא־יִכָּרֵ֧ת כׇּל־בָּשָׂ֛ר ע֖וֹד מִמֵּ֣י הַמַּבּ֑וּל וְלֹֽא־יִהְיֶ֥ה ע֛וֹד מַבּ֖וּל לְשַׁחֵ֥ת הָאָֽרֶץ׃

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.”

Genesis 9:11

The Rainbow Covenant

Genesis 6:13 says that G-d brought the Flood because the world was filled with the “chamas” that the people committed. The Hebrew word “chamas” is explainend by Ibn. Ezra as: VIOLENCE – theft, oppression and taking women against their will. But why was it necessary to flood the whole world if the cause was human? Surely G-d could have just let the people die through a plague or any other way?

The generation of the Flood were the close descendants of the first man, Adam, who possessed unimaginable spiritual power, because he communicated directly with the Creator. Therefore the generation of the Flood still possessed immense spiritual power and potential. (The fact that they could subsist solely on vegetation serves as evidence for this.)

Considering their intense power and ability to influence, the evil these people perpetrated was also extremely toxic. The world, all that’s in it, and its spiritual substance were contaminated with evil [1] Thus, there are some sages (Talmud Sanhedrin 108) who claim that the animals had become corrupt, copying man’s corrupt ways, so that they too deserved to die in their own right. They had become guilty of mating with species not their own, thus frustrating G-d’s plan that each species remain faithful to their own kind.

After the Flood, G-d made a Covenant with Noah and all of his descendants, so with us, that there will be never again a flood that will destroy all people at the same time. Nor will there be a flood in which almost all people will be destroyed and only a few saved. (However, this does not mean that there cannot be localised floods.) G-d upholds this  promise; even if the human race were again guilty of similar behaviour to that which had caused the Flood, this covenant would not be considered null and void by G-d.

For His part, therefore, the covenant remains. But a covenant often involves a covenant between two parties. Even though the world will not perish in the same way as the Flood, we must keep the 7 Noahide commandments, which are our side of the covenant.

What are the 7 Noahide Laws?

Adam HaRishon (the first man) was commanded concerning six things: the prohibitions of idolatry, blasphemy, murder, sexual transgressions, and theft, and the obligation to establish laws and courts. The sages teach that hints to these six commandments and the 7th Noahide Law (given later to Noah) are found in Genesis 2:16.

16. “And the L-rd G-d commanded the man, saying”: According to the literal meaning, He commanded the prohibition against eating of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the next verse, and the literal meaning of His statement, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat” is granting permission to eat of all the other trees in the garden, while “of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil you shall not eat…”

But, the verse seems superfluous, since it could have simply said, “And the L-rd G-d commanded the man, saying: Of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil you shall not eat”. The Sages explained from here [Talmud Sanhedrin 56] that the deeper intent of the verse is to hint to the Seven Noahide Laws, six of which were commanded to Adam on the day that he was created. The Sages explained which words in the verse correspond to which of the Noahide Laws:

commanded: This is a hint to the commandment to make a system of courts of law.

L-rd: This is a hint to the commandment not to blaspheme the L-rd’s Name.

G-d: This is a hint to the commandment not to worship idols.

the man: This is a hint to the commandment not to murder.

saying: This is a hint to the prohibition of forbidden sexual relations.

Of every tree of the garden: And not of that which was taken without permission, by theft [this is a hint to the prohibition against stealing].

you may freely eat: This is a hint to the prohibition of eating meat torn from a living animal.

The Sages intended to teach that this verse contains hints to all the Seven Laws that were commanded to the descendants of Noah for all generations. Although Adam was not commanded regarding meat torn from a living animal, but rather  a prohibition against killing any living animal and eating of its flesh, nonetheless Adam and his descendants were eternally commanded regarding eating meat, as is hinted to in the limitation G-d added to the words “you may freely eat”. Adam was not permitted to slaughter at all in order to eat. Noah was permitted to slaughter, but forbidden to partake of meat torn from a living animal, and this was commanded to the descendants of Noah for all generations,[2] as the verse which G-d spoke to Noah states, “Nevertheless, flesh with its life, which is its blood, you shall not eat”. From this point on, humans were allowed to kill an animal for food or for other necessary human needs. But they are expressly forbidden to eat any meat of a living animal. It should be noted that causing any unnecessary harm to an animal is forbidden as an offshoot of this commandment.

This leads us to the following commandments. 6 Noahide commandments are negatively worded, but just as a coin has two sides, they all have a positive version as well.

  1. Prohibition of idolatry – the opposite: Embrace G‑d’s Oneness, get to know Him
  2. Prohibition of blasphemy / Do not curse Him – the opposite: Bless Him for what you receive from Him and pray to Him regarding everything that concerns you.
  3. Prohibition of murder – the opposite: Guard human life
  4. Prohibition of eating eiver min hachai ( meat of a living animal) – the opposite: Respect animal life
  5. Prohibition of theft – the opposite: Respect the property of others
  6. Prohibition of sexual transgressions – the opposite: Live a moral family life
  7. Ensure justice – the opposite: Prohibition of injustice

When were the 7 Commandments sealed?

The Rambam teaches that 6 commandments were given to Adam. And on the 4th day at Mount Sinai, these 6 commandments plus the commandment G-d gave to Noah were confirmed. From then on, these 7 Laws could not be changed. Nothing could be added or taken away from them.

What do we know about that 4th day at Mount Sinai?

4th day Ex. 19:9 From “Moses told the words of the people to G-d”) to Ex. 19:14, and then the continuation skips to Ex. 24:1 -4 by “Moses wrote all the words of G-d”. Moses again ascended Mount Sinai to receive instructions from G-d, and descended to tell the people all the Divine laws that had been commanded up to that point. Moses’ telling and recording of the Seven Noahide Commandments took place on Mount Sinai on this day, two days before G-d spoke openly to the entire Jewish people. In Ex. 24:3 it says “Moses came and told the people all the words of G-d and all the laws…”. Here “all the laws” refers to the Seven Noahide Commandments and some of the Jewish Commandments, which had been commanded to the Israelites before they arrived at Mount Sinai. Moses told these commandments to the Israelites at Marah, after they had crossed the sea – see Exodus 15:25.[3] [4]

Can we (in) directly find these 7 commandments in the story of Noah?

Can we find the 7 Laws in the story of Noah? This was a question I asked myself. I noticed the following:

  1. Noah walked with G-d – prohibition of idolatry – he did not run after other gods (Genesis 6:9)
  2. Noah  thanked G-d with an offering – prohibition of blasphemy – thanking is a positive opposite of cursing (Genesis 8:20)
  3. Noah and his sons had to be fruitful and multiply – prohibition of adultery – Genesis 2:24 says: Hence a man shall leave his father and mother and cling to his wife, so that they become one flesh. From this we learn that a man must be one with his wife and not with another’s. The three sons of Noah each had their own wife.(Genesis 8:16)
  4. The text said: But flesh, with its soul in its blood you should not eat” – prohibition of eiver min hachai (Genesis 9:4)
  5. The text said: “Whoever sheds human blood, his blood shall be shed” – prohibition of murder (Genesis 9:5)
  6. The text said: “…into your hand they are delivered. Every moving creature that lives shall be yours to eat … I have given you everything” – prohibition of theft – Just as G-d gave fruit of all the trees to man in the Garden of Eden (except for the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil), now He also gives the animals to man for his practical needs including food. Had the animals not been given, it would be theft to use them (Genesis 9:2-3)
  7. The text said: “Whoever sheds human blood, by human [hands] shall that one’s blood be shed”  – the obligation for a justice system (Genesis 9:6

The Rainbow as a remainder to improve our attributes

Chazal teach that there were 7 righteous people during different generations who merited that no rainbow was visible in their generation. These righteous people protected the world. Conversely, this also means that when the rainbow is visible, we are reminded that the world is not always as Hashem wants it to be, and that it exists only by His grace. It should be a motivation to scrutinize, evaluate, and improve our own behavior.

When we see the rainbow we see many colors. Each main color we can link to one of the seven emotional attributes we need to develop as human beings, to become in this way a true image of G-d, from whom these Attributes emanate.

These 7 emotional attributes are:

  • 1. Chesed – Lovingkindness
  • 2. Gevurah – Strength/Judgement/Restraint
  • 3. Tiferes – Beauty/Mercy
  • 4. Netzakh – Eternity/Victory
  • 5. Hod – Splendor/Humility
  • 6. Yesod – Foundation/Connection  
  • 7. Malkhus – Sovereignty

In particular, we can work on our 7 emotional attributes; they are also central to the time of the Omer counting.

I can use the app from “Meaningful Life centrum” for learning and improving the particular aspects of human personality – highly recommended that Noahides can use it for that purpose.

More information about the rainbowcolors. [5]

The Beauty of the Rainbow

A rainbow isn’t only a sign of sinning; it can also signify divine revelation. The prophet Ezekiel described (1:26-28) that he had seen a vision of the Divine Presence, and “there was a brightness around it. Like the appearance of the a rainbow that is in the cloud on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the brightness round about; that [entire vision of a king on a throne] was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the L-rd, and when I saw, I fell on my face, and I heard a voice speaking.”

Ezekiel was bowing down before the vision of a king on a throne, which represented G-d. It is for this reason that Jews say a blessing when they see a Rainbow to praise G-d.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה’ אֶלוֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם זוֹכֵר הַבְּרִית וְנֶאֱמָן בִּבְרִיתוֹ וְקַיָם בְּמַאֲמָרוֹ

Baruch ata Ado-nai Elo-heinu melech ha’olam zocher ha’brit v’ne’eman bivrito v’kayam b’ma’amaro.

Blessed are You, L-rd our G‑d, King of the universe, who remembers the covenant, and is faithful to His covenant, and keeps His promise.

Noahides are also allowed to say this blessing over a rainbow.

It is permitted to look at the rainbow for the sake of making the blessing. However, since the rainbow represents the beauty of the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the L-rd, the Talmud [6] teaches that it’s not proper to stare at a rainbow.

A Sign of the Coming of the Messiah

The Zohar (I:72b) states that an intense rainbow will be one of the signs of the future redemption.

Commentators note that the rainbow indicates the purification and refinement that the world underwent by means of the Flood. Before the Flood the clouds were very coarse, thus preventing a reflection of sunlight. Thereafter, however, the clouds became more refined; they reflected sunlight, thus bringing about a rainbow.

This, then, is the connection between the rainbow and the future redemption: The entire world will attain the peak of refinement with the coming of Moshiach [7].

By Angelique Sijbolts


[1] Some Commentaries on Noah’s Ark

[2] Bi’ur Torat Moshe: Explanation of the Book of Moses by Rabbi Moshe Weiner

[3] Sources and Timeline for the 7 Commandments,

[4] See also Parshat Mishpatim – Where Do We Find the 7 Noahides Laws? and Are the 7 Noahides Laws unchangeable?

[5] G-d’s 7 Emotional Attributes and the Rainbow Colors

[6] Talmud Chagigah 16a:11

[7] Living with Moshiach: Noach II

What Is the Significance of a Rainbow in Judaism?, Which blessing is said upon seeing a rainbow?, Children of the Rainbow

Ibn Ezra on Genesis 9:11:1, Chizkuni, Genesis 9:11:1, Sforno on Genesis 9:11:1, Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Melachim, Chapter 9, Halacha 1, Ketubot 77b:9, Zohar Vol. 1, 72:2.

With thanks to Dr. Michael Schulman for the feedback

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