By Cantor David Reinwald
What is it about a rainbow that immediately excites us and draws our attention? This just happened to me. I was driving and looking at the sky. It was totally grey and cloudy, a state of the weather that can bring us down here in perpetually “sunny Southern California.” And then on the horizon, there was a break of totally clear sky and I said to myself, “Gosh, that is weird.” And then there it was — a rainbow.
Jewish tradition has a blessing for seeing a rainbow. It is:
Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha’olam, zocher ha’brit v’ne’eman bivrito, v’kayam ba’ma’amaro.
Blessed are you, Adonai, our God, ruler of the universe, who remembers the covenant, and is faithful to the covenant, and who keeps the promise.
This blessing is drawn from the story of Noah and the flood. At the very end of that classic tale, a dove is sent out to scout dry land and a rainbow shines overhead. The flood has ended and now peace can reign. The rainbow represents the covenant between God and the people, an unbreakable bond. It is the sign of a new era, and in its spectrum of colors, it represents the diversity of hope and possibility heading into the future.
This past year, we have survived so many floods and so many unexpected moments. I am looking forward to what the new year holds in store for us, and I am feeling more confident that the promises we make can and will be kept.
When we return the Torah to the ark, we conclude with the words: Hashiveinu Adonai eilecha v’nashuvah, chadesh yameinu k’kedem.
Cause us to return, Adonai, and we shall return. Renew our days as of old.
The very act of reading Torah is one that is supposed to be enlightening and even transformational, each and every time. When we place the Torah back into the ark, we are acknowledging the powerful moment that has passed and how we can carry that forward with us, until we return to reading the Torah again.
I hope that this period of renewal and transformation will be exciting and satisfying for all here at Temple Beth Sholom. May it be like that moment of spotting a rainbow on the horizon or looking into the open ark and feeling the radiant energy of all of the joy, knowledge, and hope that is possible.
L’Shanah Tovah Tikateivu.