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Geshmack Dvar Torah of the Week: Benefitting from Miracles

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Benefitting from Miracles

R' Chaim Brisker asks how the jug of oil the Hasmoneans found in the Chanukah story was suitable for use beyond the first day, seeing as it wasn't olive oil after the first day, it was שמן נס, and the commandment to light the Menorah was with olive oil specifically. However you answer the Beis Yosef's legendary question, at the end of the day, 7/8 days were lit with something that might physically have been olive oil, but wasn't from an olive! What was the point of using it after the first day? And secondly, there is a Gemara in Taanis 24 that states that one shouldn't benefit from a miracle:

"...מהא לא תזבנון, דמעשה נסים הוא..."

An example of this maybe the stories of old school Rabbonim in Eastern Europe who didn't have food for Shabbos, and when the Rebbetzin found something for them to eat, the Rabbi would refuse it on the grounds it would diminish from his Olam Habah, perhaps with this Gemara in mind.

Let us go on a tangent for a moment, to R' Yonasan ben Uziel by Parshas Vayakhel, in Shemos 35:27, where it says the princes, הַנְּשִׂאִם, brought הַשָּׁמֶן לְמָאוֹר and spices, but it says הַנְּשִׂאִם without the letter י. which Rashi explains to mean that their intentions were good, but their actions were lacking, in that they underestimated the will of the Jewish people to donate materials for the construction of the Mishkan, so their name was shortened here to teach us to act wholeheartedly. R' Yonasan ben Uziel explains differently, and he read Nesiim with no letters as Neshaim, Aramaic for clouds.

(כז) וענני שמיא אזלין לפישון ודליין מתמן ית אבני בורלות חילא וית אבני אשלמותא לשקעא באיפודא ובחושנא ומחתן יתהון באנפי מדברא אזלין רברבני ישראל ומייתן יתהון לצרוך עיבידתא

(כח) ותיבין ענני שמיא ואזלין לגן עדן ונסבין מתמן ית בושמא בחירא וית משחא דזיתא לאנהרותא וית אפרסמא דכיא למשח רבותא ולקטורת בוסמיא

Essentially, clouds came to the princes, with stones, oil and spices from Heaven! Hafla VaFeleh! (Unbelievable!)

R' Chaim Zevin asks R'Chaim Brisker's question here, how could they use these for the Mishkan, they might have physically been olive oil/stones/spices, but again, they were Maasei Nissim. And again, the Gemara in Taanis.

We can answer this by looking at our Sidra, 8:11

וַתָּבֹא אֵלָיו הַיּוֹנָה לְעֵת עֶרֶב, וְהִנֵּה עֲלֵה-זַיִת טָרָף בְּפִיהָ - the bird came back in the evening with an olive branch in it's mouth.

Hardly earth-shattering.

On this, the Ramban says:

"רבי ביריי אמר, נפתחו לה שערי גן עדן והביאה אות"

that ".....the olive branch was from Gan Eden". Earth-shattering!

Knowing this, R' Tzvi Pesach Franck concludes that we can differentiate between miracles. The cases we are discussing were not Yesh Meayin- something from nothing. These were Yesh MeYesh, something from something, they were in Heaven! They were then moved to Earth. They were thus completely permissible, much like the Manna, which was not a new "thing", rather, it is what the angels grind to make their bread (Tractate Yuma). He draws the conclusion that nothing new was created, which was what the issur by Taanis was referring to. That is to say that the miracle was not their creation, which would be forbidden to benefit from according to Taanis 24, but rather, their miraculous manipulation to be somewhere else at the relevant times.

Sneak peak at Parshas Toldos 27:25, where it says:

"וַיֹּאמֶר, הַגִּשָׁה לִּי וְאֹכְלָה מִצֵּיד בְּנִי--לְמַעַן תְּבָרֶכְךָ, נַפְשִׁי; וַיַּגֶּשׁ-לוֹ, וַיֹּאכַל, וַיָּבֵא לוֹ יַיִן, וַיֵּשְׁתְּ"

"And he said: 'Bring it near to me, and I will eat of my son's venison, that my soul may bless thee.' And he brought it near to him, and he did eat; and he brought him wine, and he drank."

If we read backwards slightly, the more astute reader will note that at no point did his mother prepare wine, and R' Yonason ben Uziel again points out the previous idea of things existing in Heaven and says

ואמר קריב לי ואיכול מצידא דברי בגין תברכינך נפשי וקריב ליה ואכל ולא הוה חמרא גביה ואזדמן ליה מלאכא ואייתי מן חמרא דאצטנע בעינבויי מן יומי שירוי עלמא ויהביה ביד יעקב ויעקב אמטי ליה לאבוי ושתי

".......an angel brought wine made from grapes that were in heaven since Creation......"

We can ask the same questions, Maasei Nissim, and assur to benefit from, and the answer is in the quote. They were in Heaven from creation. No problems! But what a phenomenal Yesod about the nature of Heaven...

Geshmack !

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