Baal Shem Tov, or Besht — the founder of Chasidism —
27th of Iyyar: Rainbow Day
The 42nd day of the Omer (the 27th of Iyyar), which is the day before Yom Yerushalayim, marks the date in Genesis when Noah's family and the animals left the ark, and the rainbow appeared as a sign that the earth would never again be destroyed by a flood from heaven.* For Kabbalah it is also the day of Malkhut in Yesod, a unity of masculine and feminine that represents a milestone on the way to the revelation of Shavuot. For us, it can represent a chance to commit ourselves to the rainbow covenant, to turn from actions that destroy the earth, to turn our lives away from unraveling earth's climate and the web of life, from diminishing earth's abundance.
According to the Torah, the flood began 10 days earlier ("the 17th day of the second month"), on the 17th of Iyyar. The 17th of Iyyar happens to be the day before Lag B'Omer, with all of Lag B'Omer's connection to fire and Kabbalah.
More generally, the two dates are pregnant with ritual possibilities related to the elements, to the midpoint between equinox and solstice, to global warming, and to all the meanings related to the journey from freedom to revelation. One could even connect growing our commitment to right action to growing the wheat crop in the fields over the seven weeks of the Omer.
The rainbow signified a new covenant between God and the land. It's time for us to imagine a new covenant between humanity and the Earth, including the land and the seas, one that we start to live by as we change our lifestyles and habits. And maybe next year it will be time to celebrate that new covenant.
Go to jewcology.com/resource/Rainbow-Day for resources that will be updated with ideas and projects as we head towards Rainbow Day. Write to me if you have something to add!
Here's a prayer for Rainbow Day:
God full of compassion,
You can review other liturgies that can be modified for these days under entries for Ykum purkan lishmaya, Lag B'omer/Flood Day, and Last year the anniversary of the rainbow fell on May 10. Coming in the middle of the crisis in the Gulf of Mexico, it seemed even more strongly like reflection on what we are doing to this world. I wrote then: "The time we are in now is a time to ask: are we so determined to undo God's rainbow covenant? Will we truly burn the sea, chemically and literally, with the oil we unleash from inside the Earth? Will we flood the sea with death as the land was flooded according to the Noah story of so long ago? As the cleanup continues and the effects will continue for decades, what new floods will we unleash in the coming years?" I also led a "Council of All Beings" ritual at Hampshire College. The Council of All Beings is a role-playing ritual where each person takes on the persona of an animal, a plant, force, place, species etc., and speaks as that being about what's happening to the Earth. It was just the right experience for the occasion. (I'll post instructions for how to do the Council here soon.) As I told the students, they were part of what might have been the first official Rainbow Day event ever.
* The book of Genesis describes the date as "the 27th day of the second month". There is a Talmudic debate about whether the second month means Iyyar, counting from Nisan and Passover, or whether it means Cheshvan, counting from Rosh Hashanah and Tishrei. It's possible to celebrate Rainbow Day on both dates, of course.
I'll think about this... it's during the 'omer, right? The day before Yom Yerushalayim, eg. 42 days, eg. Malkhut beYesod... I'll be back with more soon!
Posted by: Simcha Daniel Burstyn at November 26, 2007 2:55 AM
Design in progress © Rabbi David Mevorach Seidenberg 2006