This week we read Parshat Noah. Parshat Noah is memorable for many reasons, not the least of which is the rainbow that God placed in the heavens after the flood. The calamitous flood was a reboot of creation after human beings had desecrated the world through acts of injustice and cruelty. After the flood, God realized that even Noah and his family who were the righteous of their generation are by no means perfect. God vows never again to destroy the earth because of humanity, because humanity is naturally inclined to undisciplined behaviour. The terms of God’s new relationship with humanity takes into account this realization that people are not angels. People may not always act properly on their own accord and require frameworks for how to treat one another. Seven fundamental laws — known as the Noahide Laws — are put into place to ensure basic civility and social order. The rainbow is then offered as a sign of this new relationship.
At Heschel this week our middah is “show signs of respect”. We discussed how the rainbow itself as a “sign” that reminds us that it is not enough just to say or feel that we care and respect about one another; we actually have to do things that show our respect for each other. We spoke about simple tasks such as holding the door for one another, saying hello when we greet one another; we talked about how some of the actions we do in tefillah are signs of respect we have for our tradition, for our religion, and for the Creator of the beautiful world that includes rainbows.
This Shabbat, may we all find ways to show signs of respect to our friends, our family, and the world which has been given to us a gift.