Monday, July 26, 2010

Fleur de Lis - A Jewish symbol?!

5 Towns wrote:

What does the oylam think?

I once heard from a talmid chochom in Eretz Yisroel, albeit a krumme one vos halt zich a talmid fun Shloime Goren, that the Fleur de Lis symbol was mistomme adopted by the Notzrim in France because they brought it back from the Crusades.

I was surprised to see in a seforim store today, kiddush bechers being sold with the symbol on them. When I inquired, it was brushed off as being a "Jewish" symbol on klei koydesh that has been on things for a "long time". I didn't buy it, especially because I have never seen it before on anything Yiddish.

From what I can find on the internet, it was takke adopted by French kings in the 1100s. The royal propaganda had it that it shtams from the coronation of King Clovis in 493, the first king of Gaul (old France) to be megayer to Catholicism. Historians don't seem to believe it and make choyzek that the Catholics made up a bubbe mayseh so they could convince the hamon am to be maaminim that it was given over to Clovis by Yoshke alein al yedei the Pope.

Historian Anne Lombard-Jourdan associates the emblem with the Cathedral Basilica of Saint-Denis, which is one of biggest mekomos "hakedoshim" in Catholic France.

Historian Fox-Davies says it is associated with the "besulah", imo Miriam, and King Louis VI started using it as a symbol for "Saints".

England also uses Fleur de Lis on the Crown Jewels which are religious in nature. The set that we know today has been around since the 1200s, the time of the Crusades.

Pastorneau says they were embedded in icons of Yoshke in the 1200s. F.R. Webber said the Notzrim considered the Fleur to represent the Trinity.

The only "Jewish" usage I could find anywhere was adopted by the Tzionim on badges for חיל המודיעין which is a branch of Israeli Intelligence under Tzahal.


  1. I don't know if it was Jewish, but it certainly predates the Xtians. Taken from the wiki-page:
    In French, fleur de lis literally means "lily flower". It is widely thought to be a stylized version of the species Iris pseudacorus. Decorative ornaments that resemble the fleur-de-lis have appeared in artwork from the earliest human civilizations.
    Stylized flowers from Ishtar Gate in Babylon

    The use for ornamental or symbolic purposes of the stylised flower usually called fleur de lis is common to all eras and all civilizations. It is an essentially graphic theme found on Mesopotamian cylinders, Egyptian bas-reliefs, Mycenean pottery, Sassanid textiles, Gaulish and Mameluk coins, Indonesian clothes, Japanese emblems, and Dogon totems. The many writers who have discussed the topic agree that it has little resemblance to the lily, but they disagree as to whether it derives from the iris, the broom, the lotus, or the furze; others believe it represents a trident, an arrowhead, a double axe, or even a dove or a pigeon.

  2. In the German Wikipedia, they say that the Lily was considered a symbol of purity because it was so white and was therefore used for the cult of Mary.

    In Greek antiquity, it was the flower of Hera.

    In German, "Shoshana" is considered to be referring to a Lily. (Seems to be something christian too).

    So what does "shoshana" really mean? I heard three translations:
    1) rose
    2) lily
    3) anemone

    which are three completely different flowers.


  3. The thing is that something that looks like the Fleur grows in Eretz Yisroel and it is likely that the Crusaders took it back. So now does the fact that Notzrim adopted something not known to be a Jewish symbol per se make it into something improper?


    For those of you who vacation in Maine, the situation with kashrus & mikva has become chaotic.

    The Vaad has been hijacked by Avi Weiss talmidim who have semicha from YCT. This is actually a troubling trend with the modern orthodox spreading all over the country, except for Young Israel that so far listens to R' Hershel Schechter to not allow YCT rabbis.

    First the kashrus started getting fishy and now the mikva. They are allowing the Reform & Conservative to use the mikva for their meshugassin. They don't keep taharas hamishpocho but are busy with this instead: "Modern uses of the mikvah include for renewal in times of illness, pregnancy, divorce and other life-changing situations."

  5. Maine, the YCT rabbis are encouraging Reform and Conservative people to put fish into the mikva?

  6. My paternal grandmother's family
    stayed in Spain after the Expulsion
    as conversos. They adopted the name "Fleur de Lis" (later Lis). In French, fleur means flower and Lis means Lily.

    By 1610, the family went to Holland where they reaffirmed their Jewish status before the Beit Din.

    By 1704, the family was in London at Bevis Marks where the family genealogy is archived by to the 16th century.

  7. Well, french tradition seems to state that the french king clovis adopted the Lilly as his symbol as early as the 5th century in order to mark his new affiliation to christianity (associating purity and humility with the flower, as well as Mary)...

    So in this case it would not have been brought back with the crusaders...

  8. The only mikvos with live fish might be the Brooklyn ones that are so filthy, they are probably breeding shmaltz herring inside.

  9. As I wrote in the original post, historians believe that the Crusader kings fabricated the story about Clovis.

    And I hate to burst Jersey Girl's bubble but the Fleur was also adopted by Spanish Notzrim in solidarity with the French Bourbons who ruled Spain.


    A nonprofit group from Maryland that restores Torahs has promised it will describe the provenances of its rescued Torahs only “if there is documentation or an independent verifiable witness to such history,” according to an agreement with Maryland officials.

    In late March, Menachem Z. Rosensaft, a New York lawyer who is a vice president of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants, wrote to the Maryland attorney general, Douglas F. Gansler, alleging “possible fraud and/or misrepresentation” by Save a Torah. He asked for an investigation into whether Save a Torah had been “soliciting funds under false pretenses.”

    Mr. Rosensaft, who is also an adjunct professor at Cornell Law School and teaches a course on World War II war crimes trials, took issue with Rabbi Youlus’s description of the Auschwitz Torah. “There is no record of anyone even remotely fitting the description of the priest” Rabbi Youlus said had saved it, Mr. Rosensaft said in the letter.

    He also took issue with a Torah that Rabbi Youlus said had been at Bergen-Belsen, the concentration camp where Anne Frank died in 1945. Mr. Rosensaft’s parents met at Bergen-Belsen.

    Mr. Rosensaft said that Rabbi Youlus’s description of finding a Torah beneath a wooden floor in a barracks was not possible. The original buildings at Bergen-Belsen, he said, were burned to stop a typhus epidemic and the survivors were moved to a former German military installation nearby in May 1945. Mr. Rosensaft said that he was born in that installation in 1948 and returned many times to visit.

    “The brick barracks to which the survivors were moved did not have wooden floorboards,” Mr. Rosensaft said, “and they’re now a NATO base, populated by British military personnel, so there is no way Youlus could have gotten there, either.”

  11. The french wikipaedia says indeed that the story of Clovis in the 5th century might be a myth, and that his heraldic sign were frogs rather than lillys. They have a hypothesis that these frogs could have been transformed into the fleur de lys.

    The first king known to sport the Lily in his armories was Louis VII (1120-1180)

    They say it could be he took this symbol from a flamish noble, le seigneur d'armendiere. This flamish noble had many yellow lillys growing in his fiefdom (the river there is called Lys till this day)...

  12. Why is Jersey Girl so against Anusim who convert if her own ancestors are among them?

  13. i guess this is an examplary case of self-hating anussim...

  14. My father's mother's family lived conversos for approximately 50 years until 1610.

    When the family returned to Judaism they brought two witnesses with them to the Beit Din who remembered the family and could attest to the fact that they had been members of the Jewish community in good standing.

    The Beit Din records are archived in Bevis Marks Synagogue in London which is how I learned about the family's history.

    The Certificate of Return issued to my grandmother's ancestors in Holland in 1610, was not different than any Baal Teshuva returning to Judaism. Only 2 generations had passed since the family was affiliated with the Orthodox Jewish
    community and there were living witnesses who were able to attest to knowing the family and also to knowing that they were Jewish.

    This is not comparable to someone who claims Jewish ancestry twenty generations ago, who is also without documentation and naturally living witnesses.

    I personally have helped a number of descendants of Spanish and Portuguese Jews prove their maternal Jewish ancestry via civil records.
    (I translate archaic Spanish written in either Latin characters or Rashi script).

  15. The Girush Sefarad was in 1492. So this would make it about 120 years. Or were they from Portugal.

    The time that elapsed from the moment my great-great-grandmother converted to christianism till I returned to Judaism was about 95 years, and still I and my likes get only scorn from owners and bloggers of the "Daas Torah" blog. (Specially mr. Recipients and Publicity)

  16. Well, all things considered, you might be right.

    It is a bit artificial, indeed...

  17. Recipients and PublicityJuly 28, 2010 at 2:58 AM

    "oma said...The Girush Sefarad was in 1492. So this would make it about 120 years. Or were they from Portugal. The time that elapsed from the moment my great-great-grandmother converted to christianism till I returned to Judaism was about 95 years, and still I and my likes get only scorn from owners and bloggers of the "Daas Torah" blog. (Specially mr. Recipients and Publicity)"

    Every case is different and not all situations are alike, that much any intelligent person knows. What is highly suspicious and deserving of condemnation is when sweeping claims are made that people whose ancestors have been practicing Christians and having intermarried with gentiles for up to five centuries with no reliable or verifiable links to anything Jewish suddenly wake up one day as if by magic decide they are "Jews" based on some popular fad or a wish to go to Israel to get out of their old countries, but it's not so when individuals can clearly and thoroughly prove ancestry based on clear-cut records and explicit archival references from any reliable Beth Din that would meet the requirements of any current Beth Din to re-accept and re-affirm such people as Jews as was frequently done for up to one and probably not more than about two centuries after the expulsion from Spain in 1492 and the terrifying Inquisition. After that it is only very rare cases than can expect to meet with success in proving beyond any shadow of a doubt that they indeed bona fide descendants of Conversos not requiring a full conversion before a Beth Din today

  18. You failed to make this differenciation when joking about the poles claiming their jewish ancestry now.

    In Poland, there are many, many cases like myself and people who have even nearer jewish forebears.

    When you were snarking about those poles, I felt that you were afraid the jewish communities would be overrun by "persons of jewish ancestry in purely maternal line".

    The truth is: a know a few persons in this situation, almost none of them wants to be jewish. For most people it remains a curiosity in their genealogical tree, but a tiny percentage only is crazy enough to start a life kehalacha as I did.

    But when you took on yourself all the hardship that goes with a transition to life kehalacha (giving up your profession to be able to keep shabbes, not eating with your family any more, etc), it is not nice to hear snarky and condescendent remarks as you made in this context.

  19. Rachamim Slonim DwekFebruary 24, 2019 at 3:45 AM

    It is a very old thread but the subject remains relevant and so I will post. The entire Converso dynamic- that is to say, people who claim to be descended from Sephardim forced to pose as Goyim after the Iberian Ethnic Cleansing of the 15th & 16th Centuries and insist that they must be accepted AS Jews, fail to understand a couple of things.

    Our direct ancestors double in every generation. 2 parents, 4 grandparents, 8 great-grandparents, etc. By the mid 16th Century you have far more than 1 million direct ancestors. IF one or another of your forbears was actually a Convverso it would make you less than 1 millionoth Jewish. THAT is if you can even name a single ancestor from the 16th Century, much less ascertain that ancestor's personal details. THEN find out what would be a closely-guarded, to the point of fearing death secret.

    IF able to do ALL THAT, then prove that the ancestor and their direct descendents up until at least your grandmother- IF maternal- never married a non Jew. It is impossible because despite scams and lunacy like claims of towns in Portugal having beem 100% Converso ober the course of 6-centuries, there are no more Conversos. The last true communities emerged in the 18th Century.

    It has become a fad to claim that because sone family member lit candles on certain days, or sway when praying in Mass that this means a secret family history of continuous Jewish worship going back 6 centuries. No Frum Beit Din accepts this and despite forged letters from dead rabbis no Frum Posek accepts the premise either.

    The good news is that whether you are 1/100,000,000th Jewish or not, we accept Converts. There is no walk through the door acceptance outside of the Apostatr movements of the less than Frum.

  20. You are making some statistical errors. Lefi Halacha, it all depends on your maternal line. In this case, you only have 1 maternal line, going back even 100 generations. If someone claims paternal line, eg a kohen, it also is a single line.
    Also, the marranos claim to live in communities and to only marry other Jews.
    Another way to look at it: if women give birth, at an average of say 2.2, then it's even after 500 years the women who are guaranteed to be Jewish, since even if they intermarried, their offspring are still Jews.

  21. Rachamim Slonim DwekMarch 27, 2019 at 4:56 PM

    No offence but you are incorrect. "One line" has nothing to do with the ultimate number of ancestors. You have 2 parents, 4 grandparents & 8 great-grandparents regardless of the fact that you have "one line" through each of your parents. There are an average of 5 generations in each century, with more than 5 centuries to consider. Ergo, 25 generations between the Iberian Edicts and today. Double your ancestors for each generation. Therefore every person on the planet has an average of 34,194,432 direct ancestors from the turn of the 16th Century CE.

    As for Halacha only worrying about 1, the axiom is that the 2 last maternal generations must be Jewish (for Karaites it is 2 paternal), and if either of those 2, a mother & maternal grandmother, have ever willingly adhered to another religion, than the person must convert.

    IF a woman intermarries her offspring are Jewish ONLY if she has never willingly accepted another religion. Then the offspring themselves must also never accept another religion and this must be just so for 25 generations to be able to claim Converso status today.

    The idea that there are communities where Conversos have only ever married other Conversos since the turn of the 16th Century is absurd. Even the northeast corner of Portugal, where an Ashkenazi at the turn of the 20th Century claimed that just such a community existed was found to be a hoax. It simply is not possible and to be frank it is a ridiculous idea. If they were truly Jewish why would they pretend not to be in modernity in Portugal or Spain? Why hide it into the 21st Century?

    You mention statistics...Here is one: A matrilineal line from then until now is 17,097,216 women. What are the statistical possibilities that in nations Ethnically Cleansed of Jews 5+ centurues ago that those 17,094,216 women ALL married Jews?

    Your statement is non sensical. Simply do the math.

    The issue is really quite simple.


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