From the Desk of: Miriam Kahane
The Message is Clear
“Alexis, you’ve got to come look at this! It’s…beautiful!!! Look at the spectrum of colors in this rainbow. Do you have a camera? Never mind, I have my digital camera on me. (Snap, snap) These are gonna be great shots. I’m gonna email them to all my friends. I loooooove rainbows- they are so…special! They give me such warm and fuzzy feelings on the inside. Rainbows remind me of rainy days curled up on my sofa sipping hot chocolate with my friends…”
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“And G-d said, ‘This is the sign of the covenant that I give between Me and you, and every living being that is with you, to generations forever: I have set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. And it shall happen, when I place a cloud over the earth, and the bow will be seen in the cloud, I will remember My covenant between Me and you and every living being among all flesh, and the water shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. And the bow shall be in the cloud, and I will look upon it to remember the everlasting covenant between G-d and every living being, among all flesh that is on earth.’ And G-d said to Noach, ‘This is the sign of the covenant that I have confirmed between Me and all flesh that is upon the earth.'” (Parshas Noach 9:12-17)
The S’forno explains that the rainbow will be a sign to the tzaddikim that their generation has sinned. It is a call to the righteous to do teshuva, to be mispallel and to teach their brethren to return to the proper path.
This S’forno teaches us an incredible lesson. He explains that the rainbow is for the RIGHTEOUS of the generation. Why is the rainbow for the righteous? Shouldn’t it be for everyone, or at least for the wicked of the generation? The answer is that when Hashem sends a rainbow, it is a message. But it is a message only for those who perceive it as a message. Not for the general populace, who see the rainbow as a scrapbook of memories of rainy days and hot chocolate. No. They do not hear the message. It is to the righteous of the generation that the rainbow speaks. It is to those who see past the pretty colors and understand that it is Hashem’s loving way of reminding us to better ourselves. It is a call for teshuva.
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We have just entered the month of Nissan- the month of yetzias mitzrayim and kriyas yam suf. The Torah records the following :
“Yisro, the minister of Midian, the father -in-law of Moshe, heard everything that G-d did to Moshe and to Israel, His people- that Hashem had taken Israel out of Egypt.” (Yisro 18:1)
Rashi explains that Yisro heard about the splitting of the sea and the war against Amalek. After hearing about these two miraculous events, Yisro converted to Judaism.
Rav Eliyahu Lapian zt”l gives us a deeper insight into the greatness of Yisro. Chazal ask the following: Yisro wasn’t just your average type of guy, he was a minister of Midian, pretty high up there on the totem pole. He must have lived a very prestigious, comfortable life. Then one day, he hears about kriyas yam suf and the war with Amalek which leads him to leave his entire life behind and convert to Judaism. That being the case, obviously Yisro must have been the only one (besides b’nei Yisroel) who heard about these miracles being that he was the only one to convert. After all, if the news of these two miracles was so powerful as to cause the minister of Midian to convert, obviously if others had heard it, they would have converted as well. Chazal teach us, however, that this was not so! Others ALSO heard about the miracles that happened to b’nei Yisroel but what separates the men from the boys is that when Yisro heard, he let it IMPACT him as opposed to the others who heard but did not let it impact them. In fact, in Parshas B’shalach we read “Shamu amim yirgazoon…” “the nations heard (about kriyas yam suf) and trembled…” They heard but they did not let themselves be moved to action.
Yisro epitomized the concept of “v’yadatuh hayom v’hashayvosah el levovechoh”- “and you shall know this day and take it into your heart…” He heard, he knew and he let it penetrate his heart- he let the knowledge of Hashem’s greatness move him to action. Yisro had a moment of inspiration and acted on it. This is his greatness.
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We are living in extraordinary times. Just look around at what is going in the world. But look deeper. The war with Iraq breaks out motzei Shushan Purim. Twelve years ago the Gulf war ended on Purim. It is a war between Aisav and Yishmael. And to top it all off, the day the war broke out there was a huge rainbow plastered across the Jerusalem sky. Yisro’s reaction would be, “Wow, the message is so clear. Hashem is running the world. Let me act on the inspiration and change myself.” The reaction of the others who heard but did not convert would be, “Wow, big things are happening. Hashem is really doing amazing things. Margaret, where are the car keys? I gotta run See ya later!”
Let us take a lesson from Yisro and realize that Hashem is sending us messages loud and clear. Let us be moved to action. As the S’forno said, it is to the righteous of the generation that the rainbow speaks because it is the righteous who hear the message.
As we approach Pesach, let us take positive steps towards improving our avodas Hashem. Let us take positive steps towards ridding ourselves of the yetzer harah. And let us take positive steps towards opening up our hearts to let the current day miracles move us to teshuva.
Chag kasher v’sameach and may we merit the geulah sh’leima and celebrate THIS Peasch in Yerushalayim with the Beis Hamikdash.