Sometimes, we only really value what we have lost.
Who can look at the total and the magnificent details of this Gothic monument without being amazed beyond words?
I know, the goal of these cathedrals was not only to laud G^d. It was also to impress upon the mortals their insignificance so that their servitude towards the L^rd would also extend to obedience towards the rich–religion as opium to the masses, as Marx so aptly said.
Still, one can marvel the amazing art as a tribute to us mortals who, after all, designed, built and decorated it.
How shocking to realize that much of this may be lost. Hopefully by negligence of restaurateurs and not by a terrorist attack, although the sight of the fire in this landmark building did bring back memories of the New York Twin Towers on fire. Shocking even if this time only one person was hurt.
At my Amsterdam workplace, Amstelhof, the most colossal old-age home it ever had, where I was night watch until I made aliya, a fire under the roof was discovered while I was at my post. Workers had forgotten some cloth with cleaning stuff close to an open container with paint and the stuff had begun a chemical reaction, the firemen explained to me. There was much smoke under the roof but none of the 250 residents were hurt, also because the wooden beam above the paint container was too thick to burn. It had just smoldered for 10 hours.
Contrary to earlier rumors, the epic organ was miraculously saved:
Even if it’s unclear at the time of this writing, what of this building, with all its outer beauty and inner treasures, was rescued, can be restored or be brought back to “life,” clearly much must be lost. Yet, let’s remember that it is better to have loved and lost than never have loved at all.
Who could have foreseen that one day, the bell would might toll for her?
And yes, as K’vutzat Yavne community rabbi Rabbi Ilay Ofran just wrote, “nearly 800 years ago, Catholic officials gathered at the massive courtyard to burn 12,000 [hand-written] Talmud manuscripts not long before Jews would be expelled from Paris.” Whole volumes of the Talmud are unknown today, likely because of that terrible act of ethnic cleansing. May her horrifying fire of yesterday be an atonement.