The Human Side of the Story

For the week ending 9 August 2008 / 8 Av 5768

What's in That Name?

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Did you ever wonder how a non-Jewish name like Alexander became so common among Jews?

The story goes that the original Alexander, the king of Macedon who conquered almost the entire world including Eretz Yisrael, planned to install a statue of himself in the Beit Hamikdash. The kohen gadol, Shimon Hatzadik, suggested to him that there was a better way to immortalize himself than defiling the House of G-d with a graven image.

"Issue an order," he counselled, "that all the male children born this year be named Alexander after you."

The idea found favor in the eyes of Alexander who then donated gold for the upkeep of the Beit Hamikdash, bowed to G-d and departed.

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