God gave the honor of building the first Temple in Jerusalem to King Solomon, the third king of Israel and son of the Great King David. his wisdom for architecture was legendary; his insight into design beyond compare. But in the land of Israel, building materials were very limited. King Solomon wished to embellish the great structure with precious metals and exotic accessories, so he sent a man named Nicanor to Alexandria in Egypt to secure two bronze doors for the Temple.
Nicanor boarded a ship with these doors and sailed homeward. During his journey, a thunderous storm imperiled the ship. Fearing for their lives, and hoping to calm the waters, the sailors threw one of the doors into the sea. The storm, however, continued, and the sea boiled over across the ship’s deck. Again, the crew hoped to appease the storm by throwing the matching door overboard. At this point Nicanor protested, wrestling the door away from the crew.
“Throw me in with it,” he yelled.”
Without hesitation, they obliged him.
Suddenly, the storm abated. Nicanor and the door floated nearby and were hauled aboard by the sailors. Nicanor, feeling that his mission had failed and feeling miserable, watched as they neared the port of Acco with only a single door. But as the ship docked, an incredible thing happened. The other door bobbed up beside the ship amid raging waters. According to legend, a sea monster spit the door onto dry land.
The resurrection of the door prompted Solomon to reconsider the Temple he was building in Jerusalem. He observed that all of its beams were made of cedar wood, and all its walls were of cypress. Furthermore, the gates of the sanctuary were all made of gold, with the exception of the doors of Nicanor. Yet these doors, although made of bronze, glowed miraculously as if they were made of pure gold.
(Talmudic Source: Yoma 38A)
One rabbi interprets this parable as follows, “The ancient rabbis liked legendary stories with exaggerated details that spiced up their lessons. Many contained creatures and monsters that could cause or obliterate a storm, turn day into night, and so on. Here, Nicanor’s special doors were designated to stand in a distinct place in Solomon’s Temple because they had inspired miracles.”