Exodus 35:27 And the princes [nisi’im] brought the shoham stones and filling stones for the ephod and for the choshen;
Gemora Yoma 75a: Actual clouds [nisi’im] as it says in Proverbs 25:14 “clouds [nisi’im] and wind”
Torah Temimah Colloquial Translation on Note #20:
In other words “nisi’im” refers to actual clouds. The reason for taking this posuk out of its simple meaning and explaining it in a forced manner like this, perhaps is because in all the places where it mentions the princes (nisi’im) it specifies them with a particular proper noun. Examples of such phrases are: “princes of Israel” or “prinices of the congregation” or “princes of the tribes” or “princes of the forefathers”. Here, [in our posuk] it just mentions the word “princes” [without any clarification of which princes]. This drasha also includes within it the interpretation of the next posuk where it says the phrase “in the morning, in the morning”. That when the manna fell from heaven, precious stones and pearls fell with it. The manna fell from the place of the clouds [nisi’im]. These are the clouds, therefore, referred to in our posuk as having brought the precious stones.
However, it does require further investigation as to how the nisi’im in our posuk could possibly mean clouds. Note that it also says that they brought the oil for the menorah. And we hold that [halachically] the oil for the menorah must be olive oil. This is explained in the beginning of parsha Ki Tetze and in the Gemora Menachos 89a. Clearly it would be impossible for the clouds to bring the olive oil. Perhaps one could possibly say that the answer is related to the answer also in Menachos 89a that actually wheat fell from the clouds. See what Rashi and Tosafot say over there in that Gemora.
In general, however, we don’t learn [laws] from miracles and there is no requirement to answer questions relating to aggada.
Editor’s Note: It is wonderful how the Torah Temimah explains why the Gemora chooses to take the word “nisi’im” out of its clear meaning. On the other hand, when the Torah Temimah delves into that answer he runs into unanswerable questions. This being aggadic material however, these questions are not cause for alarm.