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The Miracle of the Vinegar

By Light Up The World

A Friday eve before Shabbos, Rabbi Chanina noticed his daughter appeared sad and asked her why. She responded that she mixed her oil and vinegar canisters, then accidentally poured vinegar into to lamp and extinguished their only flame. Rabbi Chanina responded to her, "Why should this matter? The One who said oil should ignite, can say that vinegar should ignite." The Talmud records that in fact, the lamp did ignite, and remained lit through Shabbos, until Saturday evening.

There is one other system that we can hold as truly absolute and unchanging; God's will. "I am God, I do not change".(Malachi) This is the correct philosophy. Both nature and Divine Intervention were equal realities, but man knows not which will occur. He does not place himself initially in danger, relying on a miracle, but when he finds himself subject to events, he knows either may occur. Both are equally tenable. Chananyah, Mishael and Azaryah said this, and so did Rabbi Chanina. The latter expressed this sentiment to his daughter, that she should not be anguished over extinguishing the only flame in their home, unable to relight it as shabbos had approached. Rabbi Chanina was instructing his daughter that God's will is the only 'absolute' truth, and what you must keep focused on. He was not trying to placate her regarding the light. He detected immediately where her concern came from, she felt natural law was absolute. His response, "Why should this matter? The One who said oil should ignite, can say that vinegar should ignite". He meant to say, "Don't fret over that which is not the true will of God. You do not know whether he desires the vinegar to follow nature, or Divine Providence."


"The One Who said oil should ignite, can say that vinegar should ignite" means just this, that God's will is the one reality. "If He wishes, vinegar can ignite" means that "God's wishes" is what one must concern himself with. And this is clearly expressed in His Torah, which will never change.


What is true reality, nature or miracles? Neither is absolute. God's will alone is absolute reality.

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