Somewhere over the rainbow…Well, we all know that there is no real place over the rainbow! After all, a rainbow is caused by the refraction of light during the rain. But when you see a rainbow arching across the sky, its awesome beauty takes your breath away.

A rainbow, however, is more than a passing beauty. It is the symbol of a promise. After the waters of the flood receded and Noah knew that it was safe to emerge from the ark (Genesis 9:12-17), God set a rainbow in the sky and declared it the sign of a promise between Himself and humankind. Never again would God bring flood waters to destroy the world.

Indeed, the sages ordained that when a person sees a rainbow a special blessing should be recited: Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, Who remembers the covenant and is faithful to His covenant, and upholds His words. (Ba’ruch Ah’tah Ah’doh’nai Eh’lo’hay’nu Meh’lech ha’o’lam zocher ha’brit, v’neh’ehman biv’ree’toh, v’ka’yam b’mah’ah’maro.)

What is so significant about a rainbow? The Hebrew word for rainbow is “keshet.” Keshet also means a bow, as in a bow and arrow. God had His bow drawn, His arrow nocked, and He was ready to destroy all of the world. In His great mercy, God withheld His wrath and saved a few of the earthly inhabitants, both human and animal.