טעם אחרי מות שני בני אהרן כי מיד כאשר מתו בניו הזהיר את אהרן מן היין ומן השכר שלא ימות (לעיל י ח ט) ואמר עוד למשה שיזהיר אותו שלא ימות בקרבתו לפני ה' והקרוב שהיו שתי המצות האלה ביום המחרת למיתתם כי בו ביום אונן היה ואין רוח הקודש שורה מתוך עצבות (שבת ל) ואזהרת היין הדבור לאהרן היה ובאותו היום היתה גם זאת המצוה למשה אבל הקדים הכתוב האזהרות שהזהיר את ישראל שלא ימותו בטומאתם בטמאם את משכני אשר בתוכם (ויקרא ט״ו:ל״א) ואחרי כן כתב אזהרת היחיד ועל דעתי כל התורה כסדר שכל המקומות אשר בהם יאחר המוקדם יפרש בו כגון וידבר ה' אל משה בהר סיני (ויקרא כ״ה:א׳) בספר הזה וכגון ויהי ביום כלות משה להקים את המשכן (במדבר ז א) בספר השני וכיוצא בהן ולכך אמר בכאן "אחרי מות" להודיע כי היה זה אחרי מותם מיד ועל דברי רבותינו (תו"כ פרשה א ג) שאמרו שלא תמות כדרך שמת פלוני זה זרזו יותר מן הראשון יהיה טעם הכתוב שאמר השם למשה בלשון הזה אחרי שמתו שני בני אהרן בקרבתם לפני ה' אמור אליו שלא יבא בכל עת אל הקדש ולא ימות: AND THE ETERNAL SPOKE UNTO MOSES, AFTER THE DEATH OF THE TWO SONS OF AARON. The meaning of the phrase after the death of the two sons of Aaron, is that immediately after the death of his sons He had warned Aaron against [drinking] wine or strong drink [when going into the Tent of Meeting], so that he should not die,1Above, 10:9. and now He told Moses in addition to warn him so that he should not die when he draws near the Eternal [even in a sober condition, but at a time when he is not commanded to do so].2Ramban’s intent is thus to explain that we should not think that this section was made known to Moses immediately after the death of Aaron’s two sons, since the prohibition conveyed to Aaron against the ministering priests’ drinking wine, preceded it. The reason why Ramban finds this important to emphasize will be made clear further on. See Note 5. It is likely that these two commandments were both conveyed on the day after the death of Aaron’s sons, for on the actual day [when the deaths occurred, Aaron] was a mourner, and the holy spirit does not rest upon man in moments of sadness,3Yerushalmi Succah V, 1. And therefore G-d would not have communicated with Aaron on that day. and the communication concerning the prohibition against wine came to Aaron,4Above, 10:8. Thus it must have been on the day after the day of the tragedy, when he was no longer a mourner. and in that selfsame day this commandment [stated in the section before us] was also told to Moses.5We may now understand why Ramban emphasized that the phrase after the death of the two sons of Aaron does not mean immediately after their death, since it was preceded by G-d’s command to Aaron. For had the phrase meant “immediately following their death,” then it would have been possible that this command came to Moses on the day of the death of Aaron’s sons. But now that the Divine command to Aaron preceded it, and that could not have taken place on the day of the tragedy [for the reason explained in the text], but only on the following day, it follows that the Divine command given to Moses, as contained in this section, was also communicated to him on the day after the death of Aaron’s sons. Ramban’s stressing of this is obviously intended to take exception to what Chizkuni clearly writes in his commentary, that it was on the selfsame day that the death occurred that the command contained in this section was communicated. On this Ramban commented: “The holy spirit does not rest upon man in moments of sadness.” Scripture, however, preceded the prohibitions with which He warned Israel that they die not in their uncleanness, when they defile My Tabernacle that is in the midst of them,6Above, 15:31. “And incidentally He explained already all the laws of impurity” (Tur). [before dealing with the commands specific to Aaron], and only afterwards He wrote the warning [applying to] the individual [i.e., this section, which was to be conveyed by Moses to Aaron, as the verse states: And the Eternal said unto Moses: ‘Speak unto Aaron thy brother etc.’].7Verse 2. But in my opinion the whole Torah is written in consecutive order, and in all places where He changed the order, placing an earlier event in a later position, Scripture clearly states so, such as the verses: And the Eternal spoke unto Moses in Mount Sinai8Further, 25:1. [later on] in this book, [the laws of which were declared to Moses in the Tent of Meeting]; And it came to pass on the day that Moses had made an end of setting up the Tabernacle,9Numbers 7:1. in the following book [i.e., the Book of Numbers], and similar such statements. Therefore Scripture stated here after the death, in order to inform us that this [communication] was [given to Moses] immediately after the death of the two sons of Aaron [and according to the historical sequence of events, it should have been placed in Chapter 10 above, where the account of events following their death is given].
And in the opinion of our Rabbis who said10Torath Kohanim, beginning of Acharei Moth, 3. Quoted also in Rashi. [by way of a parable, that this verse can be compared to the case of a physician who warned his patient not to eat cold things or sleep in a damp place, and another physician warned him likewise but added]: “so that you should not die as that person died;” thus “this [second physician] put him on his guard more than the first one,” [according to this comment of the Rabbis] the meaning of the verse will be, that G-d said to Moses these words: “After the death of the two sons of Aaron11Thus the expression after the death is not a chronological note marking the occasion when this communication was given, but constitutes part of the Divine words, as if to say: “Now that the death of Aaron’s sons happened because they drew near etc., therefore speak to Aaron etc.” when they drew near before the Eternal, speak to him that he come not at all times into the holy place … that he die not.”