R’ Chaim Brisker wonders how the jug of oil the Hasmoneans found in the Chanukah story was suitable for use beyond the first day. It wasn’t natural olive oil after the first day – it was the product of miracle, and therefore not organic – and the commandment to light the Menorah was with natural olive oil specifically. It might have had the physical and chemical properties of olive oil, but the substance had not come from an olive!
What was the point of using it after the first day?
Secondly, the Gemara in Taanis 24 states that one ought not benefit from a miracle.
Examples of this may be found in the stories of rabbis of old in Europe who didn’t have food, and when circumstance or luck provided something for them to eat, the Rabbi would refuse it on the grounds that it would detract from his Olam Habah.
At the construction of the Mishkan, in Shemos 35:27, the Torah describes how the princes, הַנְּשִׂאִם, brought oil and spices after the nation donated resources, but הַנְּשִׂאִם is spelled without the letter י. Rashi explains the oversight to mean that their intentions were good, but their actions were deficient, in that they underestimated the will of the Jewish people to donate materials for the construction of the Mishkan, and so their name was shortened here to teach us to act wholeheartedly.
R’ Yonasan ben Uziel explains differently, reading Nesi’im as Neshaim, Aramaic for clouds. It was not the Nesi’im who provided the materials, but rather, clouds came to the princes with stones, oil and spices – from the sky!
R’ Chaim Zevin asks R’ Chaim Brisker’s question; how could the princes use these for the Mishkan? They might have physically been olive oil/stones/spices, but again, they were unnatural. And then there is the prohibition of benefiting from miracles.
This can be answered by understanding how Noach left the Ark.
וַתָּבֹא אֵלָיו הַיּוֹנָה לְעֵת עֶרֶב, וְהִנֵּה עֲלֵה-זַיִת טָרָף בְּפִיהָ – the bird came back in the evening with an olive branch in its mouth. (8:11)
The Ramban explains that the olive branch was from Gan Eden – clearly, it is an actual place with actual things within it.
Knowing this, R’ Tzvi Pesach Franck concludes that we can differentiate between certain kinds of miracles. The cases under discussion were not Yesh Me’ayin – something from nothing. These were Yesh MeYesh, manipulations of something that was somewhere else – specifically, 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 according to the Gemara in Yoma. Nothing new was created, which was what the prohibition in Taanis was referring to. That is to say that the miracle was not their creation, which one would be forbidden to benefit from according to Taanis 24, but rather, their miraculous manipulation to be somewhere else at the appropriate time.
This can be proven from when Yakov brings a feast to his father, Yitzchak:
“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.”
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 that an angel brought wine made from grapes that were in heaven since Creation.
There is a saying; “To bake an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the Universe,” – this is the same idea. The objects under discussion were not from scratch at all.