Love of the Land

For the week ending 16 February 2019 / 11 Adar I 5779

Shimon Hatzadik Meets Alexander

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
Library Library Kaddish

A historic confrontation took place on the 25th day of the month of Tevet, one that became the source for a day of celebration during the Second Temple era.

The Kutim, those heathens who the great Assyrian conqueror Sancheriv had brought to Eretz Yisrael to replace the Ten Tribes he had exiled, attempted to incite Alexander of Macedon to destroy the Beit Hamikdash. When news reached Jerusalem that this head of the Greek Empire which now ruled the Holy Land was on his way to carry out this destruction, the Kohen Gadol, Shimon Hatzadik, donned his priestly robes. Accompanied by some of the nobility of Jerusalem carrying torches, he marched all night to head off this attack. With the first rays of dawn they were sighted by Alexander, who asked the Kutim leading him who they were. The reply he got was that they were the Jewish rebels he had been warned about.

When the two groups came face to face at Antipares, the sunrise exposed Shimon Hatzadik to the view of Alexander, who descended from his royal chariot and prostrated himself. The shocked Kutim asked why such a mighty king bowed to a Jew. “This was the vision that led me to victory in all my battles,” he explained, and then turned to ask why Shimon Hatzadik had come to meet him now. “These Kutim”, he replied, “are trying to deceive your majesty into destroying the House in which we pray for you and your kingdom!”

Alexander then gave the Jews permission to punish the inciters. After giving them what they deserved, the Jews proceeded to the idol worship temple of the Kutim on Mount Grizim and demolished it. It was their temple that was destroyed, rather than ours, and the day this took place was subsequently known as the Day of Mount Grizim.

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