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The purpose of the rainbow after the flood was a sign that the world will not be destroyed by a flood ever again (Bereishit 9:11):

" וַהֲקִמֹתִי אֶת-בְּרִיתִי אִתְּכֶם, וְלֹא-יִכָּרֵת כָּל-בָּשָׂר עוֹד מִמֵּי הַמַּבּוּל; וְלֹא-יִהְיֶה עוֹד מַבּוּל, לְשַׁחֵת הָאָרֶץ"

The rainbow serves us as a reminder that a sinful world was destroyed, just as we are 'sinners' now. Why then is the rainbow beautiful to look at? Shouldn't a 'reminder of sinful ways and subsequent destruction' be represented in a different way? e.g. perhaps the 'zocher habrit' blessing should be said on an actual flood, or torrential rain to remind us of the sin of the generation of the flood?

See here for brief outline of concepts in this question.

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    In general, I think, "beauty" is in the eye of the beholder. Unless you can provide a (Judaism-based) source that says a rainbow is beautiful, I don't see that your question even arises. – msh210 Oct 27 '15 at 12:44
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    @msh210 I wonder if you could provide a source that would say its not beautiful, in any literature. Please look at the link that I shared in the post to suggest the beauty of the rainbow as a relatively 'common' perspective. – bondonk Oct 27 '15 at 12:52
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    Rabbi Yirmiahu Ullman of Ohr Sameach says the rainbow is beautiful. I am willing to rely on his Daas Torah in this matter. He also answers the question in his article below: ohr.edu/explore_judaism/ask_the_rabbi/ask_the_rabbi/4504 – Clint Eastwood Oct 27 '15 at 13:12
  • According to some the rainbow used for the reminder is blue only not the colorful rainbow every is aware of – sam Oct 27 '15 at 13:32
  • Agreeing with the basic assumption of @msh210, your question would be better if you could provide some source to support the concept that God intended the rainbow to be "beautiful". There is no mention of this concept in the Torah. IIRC, Shulchan Aruch says that one should avoid looking at a rainbow more than once. (You have to do it once to say the bracha, obviously.) I had heard that you're not even supposed to tell someone else to look at the rainbow, though I have no source for that idea. It seems, then, that it's beauty is "discouraged". – DanF Oct 27 '15 at 14:15
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The Gemara in Chagiga (16a) informs us that the rainbow looks like the halo surrounding the conceptual Divine Form the prophet Yechezkel envisioned.

It brings the verse in יחזקאל א-כח:

כְּמַרְאֵה הַקֶּשֶׁת אֲשֶׁר יִהְיֶה בֶעָנָן בְּיוֹם הַגֶּשֶׁם כֵּן מַרְאֵה הַנֹּגַהּ סָבִיב הוּא מַרְאֵה דְּמוּת כְּבוֹד ה

Yechezkel saw in a vision, the Divine Throne, and describes it "like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds in a rainy day, so is the halo surrounding the Divine Glory"

The rainbow is supposed to inject us with a sense of divine awe, to the point that there are opinions (ibid) that it's irreverent to stare at the rainbow.

Now we understand why it's so beautiful. It resembles - at some level - the ultimate spirituality. (Not a clue what that really means.)

So why is it used to remind of terrible sins?

It would seem that Hashem is saying to mankind: Whenever you see the rainbow, keep in mind - by association - that there's a Higher Power who may just decide to rain punishment down on evildoers.

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    "rain punishment" -- pun intended? – Scimonster Oct 27 '15 at 14:24
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Your question is only a question if the colorful rainbow which we are accustomed to seeing is the one that is supposed to remind us of the bris. However, Rav Yonason Eibshitz in his sefer Yaaros Dvash(chelek 1:drush 12) explains in the name of the Zohar Hakadosh that there are two types of rainbows. There is one which has many stripes of color(the one we see commonly) and then there is the rainbow which is completely blue(techeiles color). He explains that the blue one is the rainbow that is zocher habris because techeiles is from the lashon of kilyon(destruction).

A side note: The Ben Ish Chai parshas Eikev 17 writes that from this drush from Yaaros Dvash it would appear that one should not make a bracha on a colored rainbow since only the blue one is the reminder. However ,the Ben Ish Chai explains that the Minhag Yisroel is to say the bracha with Shem Umalchus on a colored rainbow like he writes at the begining of the halacha. However, he ends off by saying that if one want to be pious and say the bracha without Shem Umalchos and have it in mind in his heart one should not disregard such an opinion.

Text of Ben Ish Chai:
אות יז
הרואה הקשת אומר בא"י אמ"ה זוכר הברית נאמן בבריתו וקיים במאמרו, ואסור להסתכל בו, ולפ"ד הגאון מהר"י ז"ל בי"ד דיש תרי גווני קשת א"כ צריך לברך בלי שם ומלכות דאין אתנו יודע, מיהו אין דבריו הנז' האמורים בדרך דרש כדאין לעקור מנהג ישראל לברך בשם ומלכות, ובפרט כי כל גדולי הפוסקים דתמו מלייהו בזה מיהו הרוצה להתחסד לברך בלי שם ומלכות ויהרהר שם ומלכות בלבו אין מזניחין אותו

  • @DanF, if you have a question, judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/ask – msh210 Oct 27 '15 at 16:22
  • Whats a blue rainbow? – bondonk Oct 28 '15 at 10:02
  • @bondonk , I am not sure myself since I never saw one ,but according to Rav Eibshitz in the name of the Zohar it does exist. – sam Oct 28 '15 at 16:13

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