Story from the Midrash
From The Vision of Eden: Animal
Welfare and Vegetarianism in Jewish Law and Mysticism
by Rabbi David Sears
Alexander [the Great] of Macedonia once came to the
land beyond the Dark Mountains and sent for King
Katzia. When the latter arrived, Alexander was engaged
in a legal discussion. King Katzia presented him a gift
of a golden platter containing a golden loaf of bread.
[Thus, he alluded to his anxiety that Alexander wished
to plunder his kingdom.]
"Do I need your money?" Alexander asked him.
"Perhaps you do not have enough food to eat in
your own country, that you must come here?" King
"I have only come here to learn how you judge disputes,"
Alexander replied. He sat down beside King Katzia.
One day a man came before the King with a complaint
against his fellow. He said, "This man sold me
a dung-heap in which I found [hidden] treasure. I bought
the dung-heap, not the treasure." [Because he did
not wish to steal, he was reluctant to keep the treasure.]
The other man said, "I sold him the dung-heap and
all its contents." [He, too, did not wish to keep
the treasure, due to his scrupulous honesty.]
King Katzia asked one of the disputants, "Do you
have a son?" The man replied affirmatively.
"And do you have a daughter?" he asked the
other, who again replied affirmatively. The King then
declared, "Let them marry one another, and divide
the treasure between them."
King Katzia noticed that Alexander seemed disturbed.
"Did I rule unfairly?" he asked. "If
this case came before the court in your country, how
would it be adjudicated?"
"The judge would condemn them both to death, and
the king would keep the treasure," Alexander replied.
"Does the rain fall in your country?" King
"Does the sun shine upon it?"
"Do you have small cattle?"
"Cursed be that man [who would render such evil
judgments]!" [King Katzia] declared. "It is
only due to the merit of the small cattle that the sun
shines and the rain falls upon your country. For the
sake of the small cattle you are saved!"
Hence, it is written, "[Your righteousness is like
the mighty mountains, Your judgments like the great
deep;] man and animal You save, O God" (Psalms
36:7). That is, You save man for the sake of the animal
(Midrash: Bereishis Rabbah 33:1, acc. to Eitz
 This probably refers to a kingdom
in Africa; cf. Tamid 32a.
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