“When the Great Library burned, the first ten thousand years of stories were reduced to ash. But, those stories never really perished. They became a new story. The story of the fire itself. For man’s urge to take a thing of beauty and strike the match.”
The flames at Notre Dame Cathedral should remind Jews of the burning by that very same church of tens of wagonloads of the Talmud in the Middle Ages.
The mainstream media, even in Israel, is featuring in headlines “The Crown of Thorns and tunic of St Louis saved from Notre Dame fire.”
I do not like to do it, but sometimes it is necessary to remind some Jews of historical facts about antisemitism in France.
Many of you have certainly visited Paris or The Notre Dame Cathedral, but how many of you have seen the two statues at the main entrance of the Paris Cathedral?
These statues, known as “Ecclesia” and “Sinagoga”, represent the Christian theological doctrine of “Verus Israel” according to which the Jewish people are fallen and replaced by the “new Israel” represented here by a woman who stands with her head crowned facing the other woman represented who has her head bowed, blindfolded by a snake and holding in her hands the tables of the Law …you know, the Jewish people’s Torah.
Every year, millions of tourist flock to admire and photograph these statues, but do they really realize what they represent?
Theft, crimes and persecutions – those were committed in the name of Christianity?
We have entered the final phase of the redemption of Israel and of all humanity and it is truly regrettable to see some of our Jewish brothers saddened by this fire when this building represents in all its strength the exile of Israel and the will to replace us.
The Catholic Church became the official state religion of France at the conversion to Christianity of Clovis I, leading to France being called “the eldest daughter of the Church.”
The construction of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris began in 1160. Construction was largely completed in 1260.
In 1240, in Paris, it was the same Catholic Church which had built the cathedral that held the famous Paris controversy in which the Talmud was tried for blasphemy against the church. There was no way the Jewish rabbis debating the Christians could win. Held at the instigation of Nicolas Donin, an apostate Jew converted to Christianity, he and clerics debated four rabbis, led by Rabbi Yehiel of Paris in the presence of King Louis IX of France.
Begun in 1240, the trial ended with the decree, out of the Notre Dame Cathedral, ordering seizure of all copies of the Talmud, that is tens of wagonloads, at least 10,000 handwritten voumes of holy texts (the printing press had not yet been invented) and then burning them on nearby Place de Greve in 1242.
Two of the rabbis, Rabbi Shmuel of Falaise and the Maharam Rottenberg, who participated in the debate are well known to us today through the prayers they composed and the elegies about the burning of the holy books which are still part of our liturgy.
But who was that Louis, King of France, who cooperated so willingly with the church?
Louis IX (1226-1270), grandson of Philip Augustus and King of France, was a king of the Middle Ages: a knight, religious, ascetic and hostile to the Jews.
In spite of the fact that this opposition worked to its own disadvantage, he opposed the lending activity of his Jewish subjects; he decreed laws against them and even finally ordered their expulsion.
Known today as St. Louis, he was very anxious to convert the Jews and encouraged the discussions between the synagogue and the Church to this end. At these theological disputes, it was hoped that some Jews would be converted, or at least shamed, and thus convinced unresolved Christians of the truth of Christianity and the baseness of Judaism.
There is reason to believe that Louis took no action to protect the Jews persecuted by so-called crusaders in 1236 in several provinces (Anjou, Poitou, Mançois, Touraine, Berry). When, in 1239, Pope Gregory IX asked the kings of France and Portugal to order the seizure of Jewish books for examination, Louis was the quickest and most zealous to obey. So 24 loads of Jewish books were burned in 1242.
The Talmud’s trial, also called the Talmud’s Burning, Paris Dispute or Talmud Controversy1 (Hebrew: ויכוח פריז Vikouah Pariz) is a major event in the history of the Jews and their relationship to Christianity.
So is King St. Louis a Saint? And what about his anti-Semitic measures?
King ‘Saint’ Louis was marked by a profound anti-Judaism of essentially religious nature. Louis IX, deeply Christian, did not like those Jews who refused to recognize Christ.
He condemns the Talmud! King St. Louis, moreover, does not like these people who constitute a foreign body inside the kingdom of France that he seeks to unify.
‘Saint’ Louis goes further. “Christians have a chief,” he said to himself, “it’s the bishop. The Jews have no one, so I must be the bishop of the Jews and punish them when they behave badly, but also protect them when they are unjustly attacked … “
Still, Saint Louis was instead a persecutor of the Jews to the point of imposing on them, in 1269, the wearing of the rouelle (a piece of red felt or cloth cut in the form of a wheel, four fingers in circumference, which had to be attached to the outer garment at the chest and back), advocated by the Church which took this decision at the Fourth Lateran Council, in 1215. Saint Louis did not hesitate to apply it, especially for the sake of integration and forced conversion of Jews to the national community.
King St Louis was the instigator of the last crusades and massacre of Jews in the Holy Land.
France is in state of shock, the Christian world is outraged while muslims are rejoicing on social media.
Jews have northing to mourn.
And by way of comparison, was the world shocked when on Kristallnacht November 9-10-1938, 1000 synagogues were destroyed in flames by Nazi Germany, begining of the annihilation of the Jews of Europe?.
Paris cathedral depicts Christianity’s conflicting, often antagonistic attitudes toward Jews throughout history
Notre Dame Cathedral, which was severely damaged in a fire on Monday, is a symbol of France, of Paris, and of course of Christianity.
But the church is also tied to Jewish history. As elsewhere in Europe, Jews in France suffered repeated persecution throughout the Middle Ages.
The Jewish people were both revered as the progenitors of the Christian faith and reviled as blind schemers who betrayed Jesus and fell from God’s grace.
Notre Dame’s structure depicts these conflicting attitudes toward the Jewish population in centuries past. Following is a look at the cathedral’s sometimes unhappy connections to Judaism.
The messiah’s bubbe
The cathedral’s most famous part is its West Facade, with its two great bell towers. Below these are three large portals, each adorned with carved figures from Christian lore. The right-side portal depicts the Jewish parents of the Virgin Mary, Anne and Joachim.
Several scenes are portrayed, including Anne and Joachim’s marriage; the rejection of the couple’s offering by the High Priest of the Temple, due to Anne’s barrenness (a bima and a Torah scroll can be seen behind him); Joachim’s visitation by an angel who tells him Anne will have a daughter; and Anne’s birth.
Jews are depicted in the carvings as wearing pointed hats, as this was royally mandated dress code for Jews in the 13th century, around the time the artwork was created — as a way to distinguish them from the Christian population.
The Judean People’s Front (FUCK OFF! We’re the Peoples Front of Judea!)
Prominently placed above the portals is the Gallery of Kings, with its 28 sculptures of ancient Judean rulers believed to have been ancestors of Mary.
The kings on display are not actually the originals — these were torn down and beheaded during the French Revolution, as they were mistakenly seen as symbols of French royalty.
The gallery was rebuilt in the 19th century.
Trial of the (13th) century
The infamous Disputation of Paris, also known as the Trial of the Talmud, took place in 1240, after the Church charged that the Jewish text included numerous blasphemies against Jesus and Christianity.
Pope Gregory IX ordered all copies of the Talmud confiscated and burned. In Paris King Louis IX held a trial for the text, in which several rabbis attempted to defend it. They were unsuccessful, and subsequently thousands of manuscripts, all handwritten, were collected and destroyed in a great bonfire at Place de Greve, a square right by Notre Dame.
The gray lady
As in many cathedrals, Notre Dame displays the figures of Ecclesia and Synagoga.
The two female figures are a personification of the Church and
the Jewish religion: While Synagoga is regularly depicted as simple, downtrodden, defeated and blindfolded — to signify Judaism’s irrelevance — Ecclesia is majestic, confident, often depicted with a crown, chalice and other Christian symbols.
Notre Dame’s version of Synagoga has a snake as a blindfold. A fallen crown is at her feet. In one hand she holds a broken staff while in the other, almost slipping from her hand, are the stone tablets of the ten commandments.