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While the colors of the rainbow (or spectral colors) form a continuum, people have assigned them to finitely many pigeonholes for centuries and probably millennia. Apparently, Newton used seven colors to describe the rainbow. He wrote in Latin, I think, but we'd call them red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. Nowadays, schoolchildren are taught the six colors of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet. (I guess the indigo faded in the laundry, or something.) Does Judaism (the Torah) do this: is there some finite number of colors of the rainbow (or spectrum) listed somewhere? If so, is there any (midrashic or similar) significance assigned to that list?

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Toward the weekly topic challenge. –  msh210 Mar 23 '12 at 19:25
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what is the relevance of this question to Judaism? –  simchastorah Mar 23 '12 at 19:55
    
@simchashatorah, I'm asking what (if anything) the Torah says about this topic. –  msh210 Mar 23 '12 at 19:59
    
so the question is what is the significance of color in Judaism? –  simchastorah Mar 23 '12 at 22:00
    
@simchashatorah, I'd read it more as "what's the significance of the colors of the rainbow in Judaism." Hashem could have made the rainbow one solid color, after all. –  Alex Mar 23 '12 at 22:33

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Zohar (Bereishis 18b and in other places) states that the rainbow has three colors, חוור סומק וירוק - white (or pale), red and green.

In Bereishis it associates these three colors with Gavriel, Michael and Raphael. Elsewhere (Bamidbar 215a) it associates them with the three Avos. In one of the maamarim (chassidic discourses) of R. Shneur Zalman of Liadi, he associates them with three types of teshuvah, based on love of Hashem, fear, and "great mercy." Basically, then, all of these relate back to the "three lines" into which the sefiros fall: the right (chessed, kindness); the left (gevurah, severity/strictness); and the middle (tif'eres, mercy, a blend of chessed and gevurah).

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+1, and thank you! Any significance to that? –  msh210 Mar 23 '12 at 20:31
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See the Tikunei HaZohar (Tikun 21) where there is a discussion about this involving Genhenam. –  Hacham Gabriel Mar 23 '12 at 21:22
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@msh210: there it associates these three colors with Gavriel, Michael and Raphael. Elsewhere (Bamidbar 215a) it associates them with the three Avos. In one of the maamarim (chassidic discourses) of R. Shneur Zalman of Liadi, he associates them with three types of teshuvah, based on love of Hashem, fear, and "great mercy." Basically, then, all of these relate back to the "three lines" into which the sefiros fall: the right (chessed, kindness); the left (gevurah, severity/strictness); and the middle (tif'eres, mercy, a blend of chessed and gevurah). –  Alex Mar 23 '12 at 22:19
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And indeed, the Zohar quoted in the post that @DoubleAA linked to also associates these three colors with these three middos. –  Alex Mar 23 '12 at 22:21
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@ShmuelBrill I always thought those who held a green etrog is better just didn't understand Mishnaic Hebrew. In any event, I have asked the question here in light of the weekly challenge. Let's see what we find! –  Double AA Mar 25 '12 at 1:34

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