Thursday, April 28, 2016

Should We Look at Rainbows?

Photo: Stefanos Politis
HT: Yaak

by Rabbi Yair Hoffman

This topic is one of the most controversial aspects of rainbows in halacha.

To what extent are we permitted to look at a rainbow?

The Gemorah [Chagigah 16a] tells us that one who is mistakel [gazes] at a rainbow, it is worthy that he had not come into the world, for he cares not about the honor of his Creator, and that his eyes will become dimmed.

Rav Dovid Avudraham was asked the question as to how one can recite a blessing on a rainbow when we should not look at it. He responds, quoting the Rosh, that it is permitted to look at it, but not gaze at it in depth – that is for a prolonged period of time. The Orchos Chaim (Brachos 56) cites the same Rosh, and this seems to be the basis for the ruling of the Shulchan Aruch not to gaze at it for a long period of time.

What’s the reason for not looking at it at length? The Tosfos R”id explains that the prohibition is symbolic. Just as it is well nigh impossible to differentiate where each of the colors begin and end in a rainbow, we are enjoined to not contemplate the nature of Hashem and the prohibition of looking deeply at the rainbow reminds us of this.

The Zohar [Parshas Shlach 66b] states that one who looks at a rainbow is likened to one who looks at the Shechina.

Much more on this at: The Yeshiva World

The Tikunei Zohar [Tikun 18 page 36b] states that there are klipot that surround the rainbow of a tempestuous wind and a large cloud. These cause the true deeper colors of the rainbow to be obscured, and if these were actually seen – then Moshiach would arrive immediately. 


Anonymous said...


Shirat Devorah, there is somethin wrong in the "visitors". I am not from Chihuahua. I a am from Mexico City!!


Devorah said...

I think your server is probably from Chihuahua. How is life in Mexico City?

Dov Bar-Leib said...

So if a rainbow is formed by a glass prism, as opposed to a large cloud and a stormy wind, then looking at the "spectrum" of light would be more permissible?