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Berakhot 59a

אמר רבי אלכסנדרי אמר רבי יהושע בן לוי הרואה את הקשת בענן צריך שיפול על פניו שנאמר כמראה הקשת אשר יהיה בענן וגו׳ ואראה ואפל על פני לייטי עלה במערבא משום דמחזי כמאן דסגיד לקשתא אבל ברוכי ודאי מברך
Rabbi Alexandri said that Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: One who sees a rainbow in a cloud must fall upon his face, as it is stated: “As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face” (Ezekiel 1:28). Yet, in the West, Eretz Yisrael, they would curse one who fell upon his face when seeing a rainbow because it appears as one who is bowing to the rainbow. As far as blessing is concerned, however, all agree that one certainly recites a blessing.

Jews tend to pray when the sun is low on the horizon (Psalms 72:5, Berakhot 29b). Rainbows are most common when the sun is low on the horizon (Science 101a). Jews bow when they pray (Berakhot 34a).

What if a Minyan is meeting outside (or facing large windows) and a rainbow appears opposite them? Should they face the wrong direction? Proceed as usual? Delay?

Does it matter which prayer they are gathered to pray? Delaying Mincha could mean missing it entirely, delaying Shacharit could mean missing its ideal time, and delaying Arvit would probably be a good thing anyway. What if delaying will break up the Minyan?

Do any sources address this case and invoke the above cited curse? Does bowing without falling on one's face not qualify?

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  • Similar: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/96087
    – DonielF
    Aug 28, 2019 at 3:15
  • A couple of questions come to mind. Firstly, what are you worried about? Are you only worried about the curse from the Chachamin in the West? Or are you worried about the prohibition that they are worried about? Which halacha is it? Finally, do you know any other examples of one Tanna holding that a situation is assur because of that same prohibition, and another says it is obligatory to do something that would violate that prohibition according to the first Tanna?
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Oct 28, 2023 at 19:20

1 Answer 1

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In such a situation simply turn away like one does for other inappropriate sights such as pritzus or avoda zara etc. That's more important than facing the exact direction. The same goes for davening in front of a mirror or very shiny chrome.  See MB 90 SK 71

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  • But does that apply here to rainbows? Maybe it's just ok to pray facing a rainbow and we don't hold of the mentioned "curse". Or maybe we don't bow all the way to the ground so it's not a problem for us?
    – Double AA
    Sep 24, 2023 at 16:40
  • Haven't seen anything discussing this point ( but what do i know?). Though I would say that if the Chachamim of Eretz Yisrael at the time of the Gemara pronounced a curse on an action, we mustn't do it. Also since any form of bowing is assur re Avoda Zara, and this action was likened to AZ, any type of bowing is assur, not just falling to the ground.
    – Shababnik
    Sep 27, 2023 at 18:10
  • They also cursed people who daven mincha close to shkiya. Should we also not do that?
    – Double AA
    Sep 27, 2023 at 20:56

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