Pillars of Our Faith
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein | March 4, 2016
He erected the pillars at the portico of the temple. The pillar to the south he named Jakin and the one to the north Boaz. The capitals on top were in the shape of lilies. And so the work on the pillars was completed. — 1 Kings 7:21–22
The Torah portion for this week is Vayakhel, which means “assembled,” from Exodus 35:1—38:20, and the Haftorah is from 1 Kings 7:13–26.
In this week’s Torah reading we catch a glimpse into what the Tabernacle looked like. In this week’s Haftorah reading, we fast-forward to the construction of the Holy Temple and see a glimmer of the beautiful House of God which once stood in Jerusalem.
Like the Tabernacle, the Temple contained all the ritual objects such as the Ark of the Covenant, the lampstand, the altar, the table, and others items. However, the Temple also contained some elements that were not part of the more temporary Tabernacle. We read about two such items in theHaftorah. We are told that two giant pillars – each about 27 feet high and 18 feet wide – flanked the entry to the Temple. King Solomon gave each pillar a name: “The pillar to the south he named Jakin and the one to the north Boaz.”
The naming of ritual items is not uncommon. However, usually the names are simply descriptive and functional; they describe what the vessel is used for. However, in this case, the pillars didn’t serve a purpose and they could have easily been referred to as simply “the pillars.” It seems that the names of the pillars were intended to be symbolic. As people passed through them into the House of God, there was a message within those pillars that was meant to be imparted to the worshipers.
Jakin means “He will establish,” as in “I will establish his kingdom forever” (1 Chronicles 28:7), andBoaz means “In him is strength,” as in “The LORD gives strength to His people” (Psalm 29:11).Jakin symbolizes eternity; Boaz represents omnipotence. Both are fundamental characteristics of God.
Just as today we include praises to God when we come to Him in prayer so that we have an understanding of Who it is that we are worshiping, so, too, the pillars were meant to place the worshiper in a proper state of mind. As the worshipers walked between the two pillars, dwarfed by their magnitude and size, it was a moment of awe and clarity in which they recognized the glory of God.
However, there is a third characteristic expressed on those mysterious pillars. Each was capped with a lily (or rose), a symbol of love, as in, “Like a lily among thorns is my darling among the young women” (Song of Songs 2:2). While we worship the Lord as the eternal and almighty God, we must also remember that God is loving, merciful, and kind.
The pillars that once stood at the Temple continue to serve as the pillars of our faith today, reminding us that God is eternal, all-powerful, and all-loving. He is the foundation upon which we build our unshakable faith.