Thursday, February 01, 2007

Daf Yomi - Taanis 24 - DERIVING BENEFIT FROM A MIRACLE

The Gemora recorded an incident with Eliezer of Bartusa where a miracle occurred with his wheat at the time of his daughters wedding. The Gemora states that he donated this wheat to charity. Rashi explains that it is forbidden for one to derive benefit from a miracle. He cites the Gemora (20b) where it states regarding one who derives benefit from a miracle; it will be deducted from his merits.

Sefer Hazechus from the Chidushei Harim (Beshalach) offers another reason for this prohibition. It is written: “Hashamayim shamayim laHashem v’ha’aretz nason livnei adam,” – we are only permitted to use this world. Something that comes from a miracle and is not in the regular nature of this world was not given to us and therefore it is prohibited to derive benefit from the miracle. (I don’t understand this reason because the entire purpose of the miracle was to provide for us – how can the outcome of the miracle be considered as part of shamayim?)

It seems evident from Rashi that it is not only a pious act but rather one is forbidden to do so. Mitzapeh Eisan cites Rashi later on the same daf (24b) that would seem to contradict this idea. Rashi states regarding the incident with Rav Mari and Rav Yehuda that he didn’t want to derive benefit from the sand that miraculously turned into flour. Rashi says that it is preferable not to derive benefit from a miracle and not that it is forbidden.

Mitzapeh Eisan answers that there is a distinction between a private individual and the public. A private person like Eliezer of Bartusa is forbidden to derive benefit from a miracle; however, when it is relevant to the public, it is only a pious act for them not to derive benefit from the miracle but it is not forbidden. (See however Mitzapeh Eisan, Minachos (69b) where he would seem to indicate that there is never a prohibition against deriving benefit from a miracle.)

In the Teshuvos Daas Sofer (O”C 119), he asks on this concept from the lighting of the menorah in the Beis Hamikdosh in the times of the Chashmanoim. The halacha is that a certain amount of oil is needed in each bowl; how can the lighting of the menorah be valid if some of the oil came through a miracle? (It would seem to me that the principle of mitzvos lav lehonos nitnu should apply here.) The Maharshak adds that there is a halacha derived from the passuk ‘mashkeh Yisroel,’ that something that is forbidden for consumption by a Yisroel is forbidden to be used for the Beis Hamikdosh.

The Ben Ish Chai (Ki Savo) asks on this concept from Eliyahu who derived benefit from the flour and the oil by the episode with the ben Hatzraphis, even though that occurred through a miracle. He answers that it was permitted in that situation since the extra oil and flour was not recognizable. Every time some oil and flour was taken, it was miraculously replenished; therefore there was no prohibition against deriving benefit from the miracle.

The miracle of the oil in the menorah can be explained in the same manner. Each bowl had oil in it that did not come about via the miracle. The miracle was that the oil did not disappear. Even as it was burning, the level of the oil stayed the same. In this type of scenario, it is permitted to derive benefit from the miracle. (An explanation identical to this is brought in the name of Reb Chaim Brisker.)

The Rama (682:1) rules that one who forgets al hanisim should recite the following tefillah: Harachaman ya’aseh lanu nisim – The merciful One should perform miracles for us. The Tevuos Shor asks that if we are not permitted to benefit from a miracle and it deducts from our merits, why are we praying for a miracle. One of the answers given is that we are permitted to pray for a miracle that will sanctify Hashem’s name in the world. The merits received due to the Kiddush Hashem exceed the amount of merits that are deducted.

Many commentators ask from the fact that Klal Yisroel derived benefit from the manna, the well of Miriam and the Pillar of Clouds that traveled with them during their time in the Wilderness. The Chidah writes that this is what Klal Yisroel was asking when they initially saw the manna. They said “Man hu.” The letters of the word ‘man’ is a ‘mem’ and a ‘nun.’ This stands for ma’aseh nisim. Klal Yisroel was asking if they were permitted to receive pleasure from the manna which is completely a miracle. He adds that the logic of deducting from their merits would not apply there because the manna came about in the merit of Moshe and not because of them. Sefer Ezer Miyahuda states that regarding a miracle which is done on behalf of Klal Yisroel that sanctifies Hashem’s name; it would be permitted to derive benefit from the miracle.

5 comments:

robert said...

RAV TZADOK HA'KOHEN (in PRI TZADIK) writes that causing vinegar to burn was not a miracle. Rather, Rebbi Chanina's level of Emunah was so great that it was clear to him that there is no such thing as nature. Rather, everything occurs because Hash-m wills it to occur. Just as He wills oil to burn, He can also will vinegar to burn.

What exactly does Rav Tzadok mean? Whether or not Rebbi Chanina believed that Hash-m would make vinegar burn, no vinegar in the natural world can burn. In order to cause it to burn, Hash-m must alter the natural order of the world. Regardless of one's level of Emunah, vinegar that burns is still a miracle and one should refrain from deriving benefit from it.

The BEN YEHOYADA, who suggests a similar answer, explains this idea further. Tzadikim have a clear perception of Hashem's control of the world. To them, everything that happens is a result of Hashem's involvement. In return for their trust in Hash-m, He deals with them in a manner which is beyond the boundaries of nature. For the Tzadik, everything "natural" in the world is a miracle in the sense that he sees Hashem's hand as it guides every occurrence. A "true" miracle is merely a different form of Hashem's natural order. For someone of such a high stature, Hash-m operates the world with a different type of natural order, one which is not limited by the forces of nature known to man.

Consequently, a Tzadik's life is not governed by "natural properties" of objects or "laws of nature." A miracle which occurs when a change happens in the natural properties of an object does not diminish his merits. (This applies only when the miracle brings no new object into the world. When the miracle creates a new object, one must refrain from benefiting from the miracle.)

The Ben Yehoyada adds that this explains why the daughter of Rebbi Chanina was upset. Since Shabbos had already entered and she saw that the vinegar was burning miraculously, why was she upset? The answer is that she was upset because she did not want to benefit from a miracle. Rebbi Chanina comforted her by telling her that for a person who lives with the awareness of Hashem's presence at every moment, such a change in the "natural" order is not considered a miracle at all, and one is permitted to derive benefit from it.

robert said...

RAV TZADOK HA'KOHEN (in PRI TZADIK) writes that causing vinegar to burn was not a miracle. Rather, Rebbi Chanina's level of Emunah was so great that it was clear to him that there is no such thing as nature. Rather, everything occurs because Hash-m wills it to occur. Just as He wills oil to burn, He can also will vinegar to burn.

What exactly does Rav Tzadok mean? Whether or not Rebbi Chanina believed that Hash-m would make vinegar burn, no vinegar in the natural world can burn. In order to cause it to burn, Hash-m must alter the natural order of the world. Regardless of one's level of Emunah, vinegar that burns is still a miracle and one should refrain from deriving benefit from it.

The BEN YEHOYADA, who suggests a similar answer, explains this idea further. Tzadikim have a clear perception of Hashem's control of the world. To them, everything that happens is a result of Hashem's involvement. In return for their trust in Hash-m, He deals with them in a manner which is beyond the boundaries of nature. For the Tzadik, everything "natural" in the world is a miracle in the sense that he sees Hashem's hand as it guides every occurrence. A "true" miracle is merely a different form of Hashem's natural order. For someone of such a high stature, Hash-m operates the world with a different type of natural order, one which is not limited by the forces of nature known to man.

Consequently, a Tzadik's life is not governed by "natural properties" of objects or "laws of nature." A miracle which occurs when a change happens in the natural properties of an object does not diminish his merits. (This applies only when the miracle brings no new object into the world. When the miracle creates a new object, one must refrain from benefiting from the miracle.)

The Ben Yehoyada adds that this explains why the daughter of Rebbi Chanina was upset. Since Shabbos had already entered and she saw that the vinegar was burning miraculously, why was she upset? The answer is that she was upset because she did not want to benefit from a miracle. Rebbi Chanina comforted her by telling her that for a person who lives with the awareness of Hashem's presence at every moment, such a change in the "natural" order is not considered a miracle at all, and one is permitted to derive benefit from it.

robert said...

RAV TZADOK HA'KOHEN (in PRI TZADIK) writes that causing vinegar to burn was not a miracle. Rather, Rebbi Chanina's level of Emunah was so great that it was clear to him that there is no such thing as nature. Rather, everything occurs because Hash-m wills it to occur. Just as He wills oil to burn, He can also will vinegar to burn.

What exactly does Rav Tzadok mean? Whether or not Rebbi Chanina believed that Hash-m would make vinegar burn, no vinegar in the natural world can burn. In order to cause it to burn, Hash-m must alter the natural order of the world. Regardless of one's level of Emunah, vinegar that burns is still a miracle and one should refrain from deriving benefit from it.

The BEN YEHOYADA, who suggests a similar answer, explains this idea further. Tzadikim have a clear perception of Hashem's control of the world. To them, everything that happens is a result of Hashem's involvement. In return for their trust in Hash-m, He deals with them in a manner which is beyond the boundaries of nature. For the Tzadik, everything "natural" in the world is a miracle in the sense that he sees Hashem's hand as it guides every occurrence. A "true" miracle is merely a different form of Hashem's natural order. For someone of such a high stature, Hash-m operates the world with a different type of natural order, one which is not limited by the forces of nature known to man.

Consequently, a Tzadik's life is not governed by "natural properties" of objects or "laws of nature." A miracle which occurs when a change happens in the natural properties of an object does not diminish his merits. (This applies only when the miracle brings no new object into the world. When the miracle creates a new object, one must refrain from benefiting from the miracle.)

The Ben Yehoyada adds that this explains why the daughter of Rebbi Chanina was upset. Since Shabbos had already entered and she saw that the vinegar was burning miraculously, why was she upset? The answer is that she was upset because she did not want to benefit from a miracle. Rebbi Chanina comforted her by telling her that for a person who lives with the awareness of Hashem's presence at every moment, such a change in the "natural" order is not considered a miracle at all, and one is permitted to derive benefit from it.

Rena said...

I don't quite understand the difference between the oil with eliyahu that it was just an extension of the original item and our case where the small amount of wheat multiplied to fill the whole silo. if anyone has a answer please respond

Avromi said...

Rena,
The oil stayed the same - every time he poured, nothing was missing. Here, the little grain 'grew' into a huge storehouse of grain.