A story I love | Adath Israel

This is a great story for inspiring us for the hard internal work for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Enjoy!


Alexander the Great came to the king of Katzya, and was shown much silver and gold. Said he: “I didn’t come to see your silver and gold; I came to see your laws and customs.” As they were sitting, two people came for litigation before the king. Said one of them: “My master, the king! I purchased a ruin from my friend. I demolished it and found a hidden treasure inside it. So I said to him: ‘Take your treasure. I purchased a ruin, not a treasure.’”

And the other one said: “Just as you fear the punishment for theft, so do I. I sold you the ruin and everything in it—from the depths of the earth to the heights of heaven!”

The king summoned one of them and asked him: “Do you have a son?” Said he: “Yes.” He then summoned the second one and asked him: “Do you have a daughter?” Said he: “Yes.” Said the king to them: “Let them marry each other, and the treasure and the ruin shall belong to the two of them.”

Alexander was astounded. The king asked him: “Did I not rule well?” Alexander answered: “No, you did not.” “Well, if such a case came before you in your country, what would you do?” Said he: “I’d cut off both their heads, and send the treasure to the royal palace.”

The king of Katzya then asked that a meal be brought for them. The meal was a chicken made of gold, in a pot made of gold, with vegetables made of gold and grains made of gold. Alexander the Great asked “Will we eat gold?” The king answered: “You would destroy people just like that, and you tell me you don’t eat gold? It is only because mercy is found in my country that we have this much gold.

The king of Katzya continue to say to Alexander: “Does the sun shine in your country?”

Said Alexander: “Yes.”

“And do rains fall upon you?”


“Perhaps there are cattle and herds in your land?”

“Yes, there are,” said Alexander.

“Learn from this!” said king of Katzya. “It is for the mercy that God has on the animals, it is just for the sake of the cattle and herds that the sun shines for you and the rains fall upon you, as we read “God saves both humans and animals.” (Ps. 36:7) All the more so you should be merciful to humans!

Yerushalmi, Baba Metzia 8a-b