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Halacha of Taking Photo of Rainbow

May I take a picture of a rainbow? May I look at pictures of rainbows?


Yes, and yes.

The Gemara criticizes those who “look at rainbows.” However, it is clearly permitted to see a rainbow, because there is a bracha we recite over it!

The Rosh (cited in Sefer Chasidim p. 14b) explains that there is a difference between gazing (histaklus) and seeing (re’iyah). Although it is prohibited to gaze at a rainbow (see Chagigah 16a), it is permitted to look at it, for the purpose of reciting the blessing.

This approach is cited in Beis Yosef (Orach Chaim 229, citing from Abudraham, in the name of Rosh). Thus, just as it is permitted to look rather than gaze, so it is permitted to take a picture. At the same time, some mention that one should not look more than required for the bracha, and if we are stringent with this it will be hard to take a picture; yet, it can also be claimed that seeing the rainbow through the digital camera is not considered actual gazing or looking.

Although it might be claimed that this is not in “the spirit of the Gemara,” today pictures of rainbows are available everywhere, and I think it is appropriate to say that “ein lecha bo ela chidusho” – the Gemara speaks about gazing, and we cannot extrapolate further to taking pictures.

Best wishes.


See also Zera Emes 3:43. It is interesting to note the discussion among authorities concerning gazing at the moon, which is derived from the prohibition of gazing at a rainbow. See Orach Chaim 426:2 and Magen Avraham, Mishnah Berurah, Eliyah Rabbah, and others.


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  1. So from what you are saying in Zera Emes 3:43. Is one permitted to gaze (histaklus)at the moon?

    1. Although some are stringent, according to most authorities it is generally permitted to gaze at the moon, and this does not involve the same issues as the rainbow.

  2. what about gazing at a picture of a rainbow for a long time. is that permitted?

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