The Blessing Of The Rainbow

Why are there so many songs about rainbows?

For many, these words evoke the image of a frog playing a banjo and singing in a plaintive warble. Although, I suppose, for those that do not make that association, the last sentence was passing strange. Either way, the song Rainbow Connection sung by Kermit in the Muppet Movie is a kind of prayer looking toward the yet undiscovered secrets of the Rainbow that go deeper than the optical phenomenon of colors splayed across the sky.

A rainbow seems designed to bring people together, to signal the breadth and height of the dome under which we are all found. Even knowing that the bow effect is due to the differing wavelengths of each color as it refracts through the raindrops does not stop us from imagining that there is an “other side” to explore.

The first rainbow according to our Torah-tradition was a covenant made by G*d with humanity that they would no longer have to live in fear of a flood returning the world to unordered chaos. The traditional blessing on seeing a rainbow is in fact, zocher et ha brit – the One Who Remembers the Covenant, the promise in which all are included.

The rainbow and its vibrancy is, of course, now a visible symbol of gender and sexual diversity, of the strength and presence displayed by individuals, families, and communities that proudly are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, non-binary – every hue of queerness that might otherwise be relegated to the invisible wavelengths and subsumed by ordinary light.

Perhaps, unrefracted light, simply shining without distinction is what we might think is best. Why should anyone need to stand out if we are all human, all under the same arch? And of course, we are that and all created in the image of the same G*d. Yet, the rainbow’s purpose is to remind us from time to time that we must be explicit in who is included and recognized within the light. Not everyone has the same safety in invisibility, not everyone knows that their wavelength is recognized as part of the whole, just as humanity was reassured after the flood that none of us would be left out of the promise.

May the colors of the rainbow and the expanded pallet betokening the identities of many who may feel even more forced to blend in, be seen across the skies and in our midst wherever each of us need to be reminded that we are of infinite value and that we are called to respect and lift up each person without exception as to how they love or how they live or who they are. May you carry yourself with pride and in the blessings found in the Torah this week: May G*d bless and protect you, shine G*d’s Face in kindness, and lift G*d’s Face to you always for a path of peace.

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