I am puzzled by the story of Noah and the Great Flood. Civilization was utterly corrupt, and G‑d was greatly disappointed, to the extent that He wanted to destroy everything and start again with only Noah and his family. But is the world any better now than it was pre-Flood? Just look at the news!


I will take your question a bit further. The Torah clearly states the cause for the corruption of the society at the time of the Flood: “Every imagination of his [humanity’s] heart was only evil all the time.”1

G‑d created human beings with an evil inclination, which gives us a selfish and self-serving perspective on life. The corruption of society is the expected outcome of this reality, a function of our very natures. And yet, although most of humanity was annihilated during the Flood, we retained a self-serving attitude that has lead to further corruption. And so why, after the Flood, did G‑d promise to never again bring such destruction upon the world? Given human nature, did He really trust that we would not deserve it again?

Our answer can be found in the rainbow, the symbol of G‑d’s covenant with humanity in the aftermath of the flood. As Noah emerged from the ark into a desolate world, he was plagued by doubt. “Am I to replenish the world’s population only to have it obliterated yet again due to its perverse behavior?”

To allay Noah’s fears, G‑d showed him the first rainbow in history—the beautiful spectrum of colors refracted from the sunlight in the water droplets of the storm clouds. The rainbow’s message was clear: The previous generation was so soiled with sin, it was incapable of reflecting even a vestige of divinity. The purifying waters of the Great Flood had refined our reality—physically and spiritually—to the point that, no matter the intensity of humanity’s corruption going forward, there would always be redeeming factors.

From beneath the layers of negative media coverage, tales of selflessness and devotion emerge. It is for these reflections of divinity that G‑d committed to preserve the world.

Rainbows are quite rare, but they define the sky following a storm. Let’s work on creating more rainbows in our stormy world.