At sundown this evening began the 27th day of Iyyar or Rainbow Day, the day on which the book of Genesis tells us Noah, his family, and the animals they rescued disembarked from the ark. Leaving the ark they saw a rainbow, a sign of God’s promise never to destroy the earth again. But God did not promise that we humans would not destroy the earth, which is all too evident in the Gulf of Mexico. To mark Rainbow Day Rabbi David Seidelman wrote the following prayer:
Today we stand between the 17th of Iyyar, the day when the rains of the flood began, and the 27th of Iyyar, the day when Noah left the ark, the day the first covenant was made between God and all life upon the earth. Today we stand between the bonfires of Lag B’Omer and the many lights of the rainbow, the sign of the first covenant. Today we stand between the fires: the fires that rose from Auschwitz, from Hiroshima, and the spector of a flood of fire and water from the burning of the Amazon and the melting of the Antarctic, “the day that comes burning like an oven,” a day when our flames could consume so much of the earth.
Malakhi the seer prophesied: “Here! I am sending you Elijah the Prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of YHVH, the Breath of Life. And he shall turn the heart of parents unto children and the heart of children unto their parents, lest I come and strike the earth utterly.” Teach us to turn our hearts away from chasing wrong desires zonim, and to turn our hearts toward our children and toward our parents, “in order that you will increase your days and the days of your children on the earth which God granted you.”
It is our task to make from fire not an all-consuming blaze but a light in which we can see each other fully. All of us different, all of us bearing the spark of the One. Let us use our light to see clearly that the earth and all who live as part of it are not for burning. Let us use our light to see clearly the rainbow in the many-hued faces of all life.
May this therefore be the will that comes from you, our God and God of our ancestors: That just as you turned your bow towards the heavens, promising to never again destroy the earth for humanity’s sake, that
we too turn our arrows away from the earth. May we turn over our hearts and strengthen our will, so that we care for the earth and all life, for all life now depends on our goodness and rests in our hands.
May you sustain the word which you promised us by the hands of Malakhi your seer: “And the fruit of the earth will not be destroyed because of you, said YHVH of hosts.”
Help us learn to use our fires to bring blessing to all life, that we add might and majesty to the Tree of Life.
May you bring upon all life a blessing of goodness, as it says, “Let them drink blessings forever, let them celebrate in joy your presence.”
May the Tree of Life return now to its original strength, and may the strength of the Righteous One’s bow return, that we may see the rainbow, joyful and beautified with its colors; and from there may the flow of compassion and mercy flow over us, for pardoning and fixing our sins and errors;
Make the flow of desire and blessing and shefa flow over the earth to make all life grow and bloom, from the beginning of the year until the end of the year, for good and for blessing, for good life and for peace. “And then the Sun of Righteousness will shine forth and heal with her wings” and “the trees of the forest will sing out” and “the tree of the field will make fruit, day by day” and we will bring the bikurim, first of all the fruits of the ground on Shavuot to bring the first-fruit offering (bikurim) before the altar of YHVH” with praise and thanks.
And may all the sparks of lives and species scattered by our hands, or by the hands of our ancestors, be returned and included in the majestic might of the Tree of Life.
On Rainbow Day let us rededicate ourselves to healing our planet. Two of the charities I recommended in my year end charity review article last December are devoted to doing just that: The Jewish Climate Change Campaign and Adam Teva V’Din: the Israel Union for Environmental Defense. Another organiztion, Hazon, combines environmental education with an active outdoors lifestyle. According to its missions statement:
Hazon works to create a healthier and more sustainable Jewish community and a healthier and more sustainable world for all.
We affect change in three ways:
Through the direct human impact of our programs;
By supporting the American Jewish environmental movement and the Israeli environmental movement;
Through thought-leadership (writing, speaking, teaching, campaigning).
The following values underpin our programs:
A strong commitment to inclusive community;
A strong commitment to volunteer involvement and leadership development;
Being Jewishly serious and deeply engaged with the world around us;
we believe in reaching people where they are and not where we might like them to be.
In the medium-term, our goal is to transform Jewish life over the next six years, so that by September 2015 – at the end of the next shmita (sabbatical) year in the Jewish tradition, – we are clearly and demonstrably weaving commitments to sustainability into the fabric of Jewish life in this country and around the world.