Friday, 4 August 2017

Alexander the Macedonian [the Great] visits the Holy Land

 This Shabbos which falls on the Jewish calendar date 25th Sivan when we bless the  month of Tammuz. There is a sefer entitled 'Event of Day" דבר יום ביומו, where there are compiled from Midrash and T'nach all events which took place each day. There it is brought that 25th Sivan [from Midrash 'Megilas Taanis chap.3] that this day was declared a festive day, as follows:

Three violent individuals came before Alexander the Macedonian [the Great], with arguments against the Jewish People. The Sages of Israel, after having conferred together, sent a representative G'viha ben P'sisa to respond to their demands. Actually G'viha ben P'sisa had presented himself saying, that since he is an ignoramus [of the high rank of the Midrash - not an ignoramus of today], that should he be successful in repelling their arguments - that would be fine, but should he not be successful, the Sages would respond that he is no more than an ignoramus.

The first to present his argument before Alexander the Macedonian was a descendant of Ishmael, arguing that the Land of Israel belongs also to them: Abraham had  two sons, Isaac and Ishmael they argued, therefore Israel belongs also to them.

G'viha ben P'sisa responded: since all of your claim is Torah based, that Ishmael was the son of Abraham; the same Torah also states that Abraham gave to the sons of the concubines gifts and sent them away to the land of the East. However regarding Isaac it written [Genesis 25.5]: 'He [Abraham] gave all of his possessions to Isaac'. Hearing this, the Ishmaelites had nothing to respond, and took hasty leave.

Next came the Canaanites arguing against the Jewish People: "You are thieves. The land upon which you dwell belongs to the Canaanites - Jews came from other countries and conquered the land".

G'viha ben P'sisa responded: "In the Torah it is recorded [Genesis 9.25] regarding Canaan "He will be a slave belonging to slaves; therefore any possessions you will have will belong to the Jewish People because your status of slavery will remain [even when the Jewish People will themselves enter slavery] - 'slaves belonging even to slaves'. When the Canaanites could find no response to this, they left their tents filled with valuables and took hasty leave.

Thereafter the Egyptians came onto the scene arguing that Torah itself records [Exodus 3.22] that when the Jewish People left Egypt "they borrowed vessels of silver and gold, valuable garments and veritable emptied out Egypt"; therefore now we want the money returned to us.

G'viha ben P'sisa responded: "To the contrary, Egypt enslaved and afflicted the Jewish People for a period of 400 years with no recompense. Come, let us make a calculation and see who is the creditor to whom. Even before completing the calculation of 100 years the Egyptians took to their feet and ran.

The message we have from this historic event is as follows: when telling a gentile that the Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish People, we should not base our claim because Henry Kissinger or Carl Marx said so or that Israel has sufficient military weaponry to respond. A contendent will remain unconvinced by these arguments.

Only when the Jewish People state that the Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish People  because this is recorded in the Torah - then will the contestant be receptive and make his escape.

Actually one could ask: why should a gentile be affected by this argument; he could well respond - that is what is written in your Torah, but not in my scripture!

But since a Jew make his statement with absolute truth - the gentile will accept this as fact; same as took place on 25th of Sivan when G'viha ben P'sisa spoke with all the truth of his heart - that is why the antagonists took their hasty retreat.  
   
                                                                                   Public talk Parshas Sh'lach 1974  

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