Thursday, January 17, 2013

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All Costs

via Lma’an Yishme’u

Alexander the Great once visited the King of Katzia to observe that country's laws and customs. Just then, two citizens were admitted to have their judgment rendered by the king.

"My master, the King!" called out the plaintiff. "I bought a desolate piece of land from this man here, dug it up, and discovered a buried treasure. So I told him to take the treasure; I bought a ruin, not a treasure!"

"Just as you are afraid of being punished for stealing, so am I!" responded the other. "I sold the ruin to you, including everything in it, from the depths of the earth, until the sky!"

The king asked one man if he had a son, and the other, if he had a daughter. He advised that their children get married and the treasure be given to the new couple. Alexander looked on in amazement.

"Didn't I judge well?" queried the King of Katzia. "Sure!" replied Alexander the Great. "But if I had been the arbitrator, I would have killed them both, and taken the treasure for the kingdom's coffers..."

The King of Katzia then asked, "Does the sun shine in your country?" "Yes," replied Alexander.

"Does it rain?" He nodded affirmatively.

"Do you have animals?" "Yes," he said.

"Well, then," declared the King of Katzia, "the sun shines and the rain falls in the merit of those animals."

(ויקרא רבה כז, א)  (Midrash Vayikra Raba)

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