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Notre Dame – Burning of the Talmud

The world is in shock at the burning down of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. The מהר”ם מרוטנבורג authored a קינה that we say on תשעה באב. The קינה begins שאלי שרופה באש and he composed this קינה after the burning of the Talmud in the mid 1200’s in Paris right in front of the Notre Dame. In the קינה he writes ולכן אשרי שישלם לך גמוליך, צורי בלפיד ואש, הלבעבור זה נתנך כי באחריתך תלהט אש בשוליך. Seems like today it was fulfilled ….

Translated:

The world is in shock at the burning down of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. The Maharam of Rothenburg authorized a lament that we […the jews] say on Tisha B’Av. The lamentation begins ”Ask burnt in the fire” and he composed this lamentation after the burning of the Talmud in the mid 1200’s in Paris right in front of the Notre Dame. In the lament he writes, therefore, ‘Blessed is He to pay your rewards, Tzuri […my rock] with flame and fire, for this you shall be blessed, because in your end fire will burn on your fringes’. Seems like today it was fulfilled ….

Day in Jewish History :

1242: France Burns All Known Copies of the Talmud

It all began when an excommunicated Jew shared his complaints about the Talmud with the pope.

The purpose of the Paris disputation was to rid the Jews of their supposed “belief in the Talmud”, in order that they might return to Old Testament Judaism and eventually embrace Christianity.

Header: Statue of Sinagogue on Notre-Dame Paris France. Photo by Toni L. Kamins

Notes:

Notre Dame Cathedral in the heart of Paris is among the most visited sites on the planet and a splendid example of Gothic architecture.

Each year, millions flock to admire and photograph its flying buttresses and statuary, yet few take any real notice of two prominent female statues on either side of the main entrance. The one on the left is dressed in fine clothing and bathed in light, while the one on the right is disheveled, with a large snake draped over her eyes like a blindfold.

The statues, known as Ecclesia and Sinagoga, respectively, and generally found in juxtaposition, are a common motif in medieval art and represent the Christian theological concept known as supercessionism, whereby the Church is triumphant and the Synagogue defeated.

Sinagoga is depicted here with head bowed, broken staff, the tablets of the law slipping from her hand and a fallen crown at her feet.

Ecclesia stands upright with crowned head and carries a chalice and a staff adorned with the cross.

3 Comments

  1. See commentaries ,the correct translation & meaning of the cited verse is; my rock;with flames and fire was it for this reason you were given in this manner[the torah was given in fire]so that in your end flames will burn in your soles. Maharam is lamenting is this chas va shalom the end plan, not predicting anything on the wrongdoers.

    1. Notre Dame and the Jews

      The flames at Notre Dame Cathedral should remind Jews of the burning by that very same Catholic 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?

      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 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 on the 9th of Av fast.

      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.

  2. I suppose it means that whoever hurt you, it will come back to hurt him.
    You exact a revenge. Its about time.

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