Me'ilah 32 - Alexander of Macedon and the Elders of the South (Tamid)

Since on the previous page we mentioned the sun, the Talmud here recounts a story that also mentions the sun: Alexander asked the Sages about ten matters, the first dealing with the sun. He said, "Which distance is greater, from heaven to earth, or from east to to west?" The question was of a spiritual nature, concerning the two types of Divine Providence for the righteous, but nevertheless it had to be clothed in physical matters. They answered, "From east to west is greater, since people can see the sun in the east and in the west, but not when it is directly above."

He asked, "Were the heavens created first, or the earth?" They answered, "The heavens," based on the verse, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." He then asked "What was created first, light or darkness?" They said, "This matter has no resolution." But let them respond that darkness was created first, based on the verse, "And darkness was upon the face of the earth, and God created light!" They did not want to give him the answer, lest he continues exploring what was before the Creation. If so, they should not have answered the first question either! At first they thought that he was asking about the plain meaning of the verses in the Torah, but when they saw that he was intent on knowing the mysteries also, they stopped there. He also asked many questions about proper conduct in life, and an advice in war.

Art: Ivan Fedorovich Choultse - Sunrise