New Haftarah for the Rainbow Covenant: Hebrew & English text

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Please see attached PDF file for the original English text and Hebrew translation of the Rainbow Haftarah.

Origins of the Rainbow Haftarah

In August of 1994, I was the Resident Torah Teacher at Elat Chayyim retreat center. Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi was the prayer leader of every Shabbat morning service, and had asked me to read in English the Prophetic readings every week.

During the week of August 8, I was invited to speak to speak with teen-agers at a nearby Jewish summer camp about Jewish approaches to the growing ecological dangers facing our planet. I did, and then came back to Elat Chayyim, feeling I had failed. Feeling distraught that I had not connected with the teens -- the next generation of the Jewish people -- even though they seemed to me the most important audience for what I had to say. The next night, I slept uneasy.

When I awoke, I felt unrolling in me a scroll of passionate words that seemed to me not in any ordinary way my own. I wrote them down.

Then I went to Reb Zalman to say I felt and thought as if I had been channeled a Haftarah for the days of Consolation that follow after the grief of Tisha B’Av, mourning the destruction of the Temple. I asked whether he would permit me to deliver it as the haftarah for the coming Shabbat. He agreed, and I did so on 27 Av 5753/ August 14, 1993.

When I read it that Shabbat, I felt myself again not the “author” but a channel for the message. One of the participants in the service said he had accidentally brushed against me as I was reading, and felt a shock like static electricity.

A few weeks later, Reb Zalman translated the Haftarah into Hebrew.

Though the words came to me for one of the Shabbats of Consolation, I have often used it since as the Haftarah for Shabbat Noach, the Torah portion when we read the story of the Rainbow, symbolizing the healing of the Earth after the Flood.

With blessings of shalom for adam and adamah, the Earth and earthy humans –

Rabbi Arthur Waskow

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