הן היום הקריבו מהו אומר אלא אמר להם משה שמא זרקתם דמה אוננין שהאונן שעבד חלל אמר לו אהרן וכי הם הקריבו שהם הדיוטות אני הקרבתי שאני כהן גדול ומקריב אונן לשון רש"י (רש"י על ויקרא י׳:י״ט) וכך הוא בגמרא בפרק טבול יום (זבחים קא) ודלמא אקריבתוה ופסלתוה ואני תמה שהרי קודם האנינות נעשו כל הקרבנות דכתיב וירד מעשות החטאת והעולה והשלמים (ויקרא ט׳:כ״ב) ואחר כן נכנסו לאהל מועד והתפללו ואח"כ ירדה האש לקרבנות ואז הקטירו נדב ואביהוא קטרת זו ושמא לא היה משה רואה את מעשיהם וחשש שמא מצאו דם השעיר הזה שלא נזרק עדיין וזרקוהו ואהרן אמר לו הלא הזריקה שלי היא וכשנזרקה מידי נזרקה ולא נפסלה באנינות ומשא ומתן של הלכה היה אבל לא נעשה בהן דבר באנינות כלל: AND AARON SPOKE UNTO MOSES: BEHOLD, THIS DAY HAVE THEY OFFERED. “What did Aaron mean to say by this? But [the explanation is]: Moses had said to them: ‘Perhaps you sprinkled the blood of [the sin-offering of the New Moon] whilst you were onenim,85An onen by law of the Torah is a mourner on the day of death of his relative whether before or after burial on that day. [On the night following he is an onen by law of the Rabbis. If burial has not taken place on the day of death he continues to be an onen by law of the Rabbis. When burial finally takes place he is an onen by law of the Rabbis even after burial, but at night he is no longer considered an onen at all.] An onen is to be distinguished from an avel who is a mourner for a period of seven or thirty days. The laws of mourning as affecting the Divine Service in the Tabernacle and its holy offerings relate to the priest when he is an onen. and an onen who performs the Service invalidates [the offering, and therefore you burnt it]?’ To this Aaron replied [that Moses should not be angry with his sons]: ‘Did they bring the offerings [on that day] — they who are ordinary priests? It was I that offered — and I, as High Priest, am permitted to offer when an onen.’”141The reason, Aaron continued, why the sin-offering was burnt, is because there is a difference between occasional [such as the people’s sin-offering brought on that particular day, and the sin-offering of Nachshon, prince of the tribe of Judah — see Numbers 7:16] and offerings that are obligatory for all generations [such as the sin-offering of the New Moon]. “If you [Moses] have been commanded that the occasional offerings be eaten by the priests even while they are onenim, you cannot apply this leniency in the case of offerings that are obligatory for all generations.” As Verse 20 states, Moses was well-pleased with this answer, and as explained by Rashi, he was not ashamed to admit his error. This is Rashi’s language. So too is it found in the Gemara [of Tractate Zebachim], in the Chapter Tebul Yom:142Literally: “One who [having incurred some impurity] immersed himself [in an immersion-pool] on that day,” but must wait for sunset to be perfectly pure. — In passing it may be noted that in the time of Ramban all texts of the Talmud were in manuscript form, and page numbers were unknown. A reference to any particular place in the Talmud had to be made on the basis of the name of the chapter. Hence Ramban’s expression here: “and so it is in the Gemara, in the Chapter Tebul Yom.” [Moses said to Aaron’s sons]: “But perhaps you offered it [while you were onenim]85An onen by law of the Torah is a mourner on the day of death of his relative whether before or after burial on that day. [On the night following he is an onen by law of the Rabbis. If burial has not taken place on the day of death he continues to be an onen by law of the Rabbis. When burial finally takes place he is an onen by law of the Rabbis even after burial, but at night he is no longer considered an onen at all.] An onen is to be distinguished from an avel who is a mourner for a period of seven or thirty days. The laws of mourning as affecting the Divine Service in the Tabernacle and its holy offerings relate to the priest when he is an onen. and thus you invalidated it.”
But I wonder! For all the offerings were brought before they became mourners, as it is written, and he Aaron] came down from offering the sin-offering, and the burnt-offering, and the peace-offerings,143Above, 9:22. and afterwards they entered the Tent of Meeting144Ibid., Verse 23. and prayed, following which there came forth the fire [that consumed] the offerings145Ibid., Verse 24. and only then did Nadab and Abihu offer up this incense!146Verse 1 in this chapter. [So how could Moses have thought that Elazar and Ithamar had performed the Service while they were mourners because of the death of their brothers, since their death occurred only after the performing of the Service!]147The Tur answers Ramban’s question by pointing out that the verse in 9:23 speaks only of the particular offerings that were brought especially on that day, but mentions nothing of the sin-offering of the New Moon, obligatory for all generations. That offering had not yet been brought, and Moses therefore properly questioned them on it. Perhaps Moses had not seen their acts, and was therefore afraid that they may have found the blood of this sin-offering [of the New Moon] which had not yet been sprinkled [upon the altar], and that they sprinkled it. So Aaron told Moses: “The sprinkling was to be done by me, and when it was [in fact] sprinkled, it was done by my hand and thus the offering did not become invalidated by mourning [since the High Priest may bring offerings even when an onen].”148And as to the reason why the offering was burnt, see above, Note 141. But the whole discussion [between Moses and Aaron] was theoretical, for nothing at all was done while they were in a state of mourning [since all the offerings had in fact been brought before the death of Nadab and Abihu].