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To Weave a Rainbow
by Prof. Yirmiyahu Branover

The famous English poet John Keats once wrote that the rise of science will "unweave the rainbow." Once you offer a rational explanation of some natural phenomenon, that strips it of all its beauty and mystery.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe dispels this concern, explaining that the laws of nature were also created and established by the Holy One, Blessed be He. G-d is the Master over natural phenomena, no less than the miraculous. Moreover: the divine power manifested in the recurring laws of nature is superior, in some aspects, to the force inherent in a one-time miracle that disrupts nature. For example, the famous miracle of the splitting of the Red Sea, during which the liquid water suddenly became solid and stood for several hours, is not as great a miracle as the very existence of any water, including the water now in a glass in front of us.

The existence of everything in this world out of nothingness is the greatest miracle possible. G-d is constantly recreating the world out of nothing at every moment, as we say in our prayers: "He renews in His goodness every day constantly the act of creation."

In that same talk, the Rebbe explained that the scientific explanation for a rainbow does not contradict the Torah's description in Bereishit. According to the Torah, G-d placed the rainbow in the sky as a symbol of His covenant with Noah never to destroy the world again with a flood. After the flood, G-d simply made the clouds more translucent, making the appearance of a rainbow possible.   

"The rainbow has the undeserved reputation of having a simple explanation," says Craig Bohren, an atmospheric physicist at Pennsylvania State University. It turns out that many of the explanations for the rainbow found in textbooks are incorrect. The rainbow can be seen due to the unique properties of water, in that each drop can serve simultaneously as a mirror, a lens and a prism. However, no physicist has yet been able to propose a simple explanation for how the spectrum of light in a rainbow becomes visible to our eyes as a series of separate colors. 

The rainbow is woven in our heads, no less than in the sky. There still is much to learn and to be revealed. A complete understanding of the laws of nature will remain elusive until the coming of Moshiach. Then it will be revealed before us the fundamental force that unites all of creation and brings it into being: the infinite power of our Creator.

Prof. Yirmiyahu Branover is chairman of the Center of Magnetohydrodynamic Studies and Training at Ben-Gurion University.



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