ומן המקדש לא יצא אינו הולך אחר המטה (ת"כ כאן וסנהרין יט) ועוד מכאן למדו רבותינו (הוריות יב) שכהן גדול מקריב אונן וכן משמעו אף אם מתו אביו ואמו אינו צריך לצאת מן המקדש אלא עובד עבודה ולא יחלל את מקדש אלהיו שאינו מחלל בכך את העבודה אם עבד כשהוא אונן שהתיר לו הכתוב לעבוד הא הדיוט שעבד אונן חלל לשון רש"י (רש"י על ויקרא כ״א:י״ב) ושני המדרשים הללו חלוקים הם זה עם זה שאם הכתוב התיר בכהן גדול שאינו צריך לצאת מן המקדש מפני אנינותו כהדיוט אבל יכול הוא לעבוד כשהוא אונן אם כן אין בכאן אזהרה כלל שלא יצא אחר המטה וכן "לא יחלל את מקדש אלהיו" כפי הלשון הזה אינו אלא לומר שאין עבודתו מחוללת וללמד שההדיוט שעבד אונן חלל ואם כן הכתוב הזה שלילות ולא אזהרה ובעלי ההלכות מנאוהו בלאוין בהלכות פסוקות ובהלכות גדולות ועוד שכבר כתבתי (רמב"ן על ויקרא י׳:ו׳) הברייתא שהיא שנויה בתורת כהנים (שמיני מילואים מב מג) ומפורש בה שהוא לאו גמור כדקתני ומפתח אהל מועד לא תצאו (ויקרא ח׳:ל״ג) יכול בשעת עבודה ושלא בשעת עבודה תלמוד לומר ומן המקדש לא יצא ולא יחלל אימתי אינו יוצא ואין מחלל הוי אומר בשעת עבודה וקתני אין לי אלא אהרן ובניו שנמשחו בשמן המשחה שאם יצאו בשעת עבודה חייבין מיתה מנין לכל הכהנים שבכל הדורות וכו' והרי הוא לאו גמור אזהרה שלא יניח עבודה ויצא לפיכך אני אומר כדי לקיים כל דברי חכמים שעיקר הכתוב הזה יזהיר בכהן גדול שלא יצא מן המקדש בשעת עבודה על כל נפשות מת ולא יחלל את המקדש שיעזוב עבודתו לכבוד המת אבל יהיה כבוד המקדש ועבודתו גדול עליו מכבוד המת ואהבתו אותו וכל שכן שאם מניח עבודתו ללא דבר ויוצא שעובר בלאו הזה אבל הזהירו הכתוב בענין המת להתיר לו העבודה כשהוא אונן ומאחר שהיא מותרת לו אם יניחנה מרצון עצמו יהיה חלול המקדש וזה הוא פירוש הכתוב הזה וכבר כתבתיו בסדר ויהי ביום השמיני ועוד מצינו שנחלקו רבותינו בפרק שני של מסכת זבחים (זבחים ט״ז) ואמרו אונן מנא לן דמחיל עבודה דכתיב ומן המקדש לא יצא ולא יחלל הא אחר שלא יצא חלל ורבי אלעאי אמר מהכא הן היום הקריבו את חטאתם ואת עולתם (ויקרא י׳:י״ט) אני הקרבתי מכלל דאי אינהו אקרבו שפיר וכו' ורבי אלעאי מאי טעמא לא אמר ומן המקדש לא יצא אמר לך מי כתיב הא אחר שלא יצא חלל והענין לומר כי כיון שאמר הכתוב אזהרה בכהן גדול שלא יצא ולא יחלל העבודה בהניחו אותה אין לכהן הדיוט במשמע הזה שיחלל כשיעבוד ומכאן ראיה עוד שאיננו רשות להתיר העבודה לכהן גדול ולהודיעו שאין עבודתו מחוללת בכך כי היה יוצא מזה בודאי שכהן הדיוט מחלל אותה והנה יראה מזה בפשוטו כי על דעת הפירוש הראשון הוא שלילות בכהן גדול שאינו מחלל עבודתו כלשון רש"י אבל מפני שהברייתא מפורשת שהוא אזהרה נאמר שהם יסברו כי מאחר שאין האזהרה אלא בכהן גדול ומכלל שההדיוט יוצא ומניח העבודה מזה נלמוד שהיא מחוללת ואילו היתה כשרה לא יתיר לו להניחה וכך שנויה בתורת כהנים בפרשה הזאת (פרשה ב ו) ומניין שאם עבד עבודתו כשרה תלמוד לומר ולא יחלל את מקדש אלהיו הא כהן הדיוט שעבד עבודתו פסולה והסוגיא ששנויה בסנהדרין (יט) ומן המקדש לא יצא שאינו יוצא אחר המטה עמהם אלא הם נכסין והוא נגלה הם נגלין והוא נכסה דברי רבי מאיר ורבי יהודה אומר אינו יוצא מן המקדש כלל שנאמר ומן המקדש לא יצא ופירשו בטעמו של רבי מאיר ו"מן המקדש" מקדושתו לא יצא וכיון דאית ליה היכירא לא אתי למנגע ורבי יהודה אגב מרריה דילמא מיקרי ונגע כל זה אסמכתא מדבריהם הם הנהיגו סילסול בכהן גדול שלא יצא אחר המטה לפי שהוא אינו מטמא לקרובים ואדם בהול על מתו שמא יגע בהן כענין ויפל יוסף על פני אביו (בראשית נ א) אבל כהן הדיוט על קרוביו הוא מטמא ועל אחרים אינו בהול שיטמא להן וכל זה בכהן גדול מעלה מדבריהם וסמכו אותה לכתוב הזה כדרך האסמכתות בתלמוד וכך מצאתי בתוספתא בסנהדרין (פ"ד ה"א) אמרו לרבי יהודה אין מן המקדש לא יצא אלא בשעת עבודה בלבד ועוד שם בירושלמי (פ"ב ה"א) ראיות אין כאן מקום הזכרתם: NEITHER SHALL HE GO OUT OF THE SANCTUARY. “He does not follow the bier [of a near relative]. Our Rabbis have further derived from this verse [the principle] that the High Priest may perform [the Divine Service] when he is an onen (a mourner),28See above, Seder Shemini, Note 85. the meaning of the verse thus being as follows: Even if his father or his mother died, he need not leave the Sanctuary but he may perform the Service. Nor shall he profane the Sanctuary of his G-d, means that [the High Priest] does not profane thereby the Service by ministering when he is an onen,28See above, Seder Shemini, Note 85. since Scripture permitted him to minister. From this you deduce that a common priest who officiated when he is an onen, does profane the Service.” This is Rashi’s language.
But these two interpretations [that Rashi mentioned, namely, that the High Priest is not to follow the bier of a near relative, and that he may officiate when he is an onen], are really opposing opinions, for since the verse permitted the High Priest not to leave the Sanctuary on account of his mourning, as a common priest must do, but instead he may [continue to] officiate when he is an onen,28See above, Seder Shemini, Note 85. then there is no admonition here against his following the bier of his near relative.29To understand Ramban’s criticism of Rashi’s interpretation, it is necessary to recall the difference between a statement which is a mere negation and one which is a prohibition. “An admonition is in the nature of a charge; it is in fact the verb in its command-form” (“The Commandments,” Vol. II, p. 391). But a statement of negation merely excludes a particular case from a certain subject (see further, Ramban Vol. II, p. 350, Note 71). Now the verse before us reads, Neither shall he go out of the Sanctuary, nor profane the Sanctuary of his G-d. In interpreting the phrase, neither shall he go out of the Sanctuary as a prohibition, meaning that he is not permitted to leave the Sanctuary to follow the bier, how could Rashi continue on the basis of the same phrase to state that he need not leave the Sanctuary, but he may perform the Service, since these two interpretations of the same phrase are contradictory to each other! This is the meaning of Ramban’s succinct objection: “Since the verse permitted the High Priest … then there is no admonition …” Mizrachi, in defense of Rashi, answers that Rashi was not referring only to the first phrase [as if both the permission and the admonition are derived from the same phrase], but rather to both phrases of the verse, the first one [neither shall he go out …] establishing the prohibition, and the second one [nor profane …] constituting the negation. Ramban will also further on defend Rashi’s position from another standpoint. Similarly, nor shall he profane the Sanctuary of his G-d is, according to this interpretation [of Rashi], nothing but a statement that the Service of the High Priest does not become profaned [although performed when he is an onen], from which you are to deduce that a common priest who officiates when he is an onen, does defile the Service. But if so, this verse is merely a negation, not a prohibition, and yet the “masters of the Halachoth”30“Masters of the Halachoth.” From the ensuing phrase [“counted it among the negative commandments in the Hilchoth Gedoloth”], it is obvious that Ramban is referring to one particular work. But if so, why does he speak of “the masters” [in the plural] of that work? It may be that this is because it has long been in doubt whether the authorship of that book is to be ascribed to Rav Yehudai Gaon or to Rabbi Shimon Kairo, or to both. Hence Ramban writes here “the masters of the Halachoth.” See, however, in Exodus 21:7, where Ramban writes of “the master of the Hilchoth Gedoloth” — in the singular. See Vol. II, p. 350, Note 70. counted it among the negative commandments in the Hilchoth Gedoloth! Moreover, I have already quoted the Beraitha31For the meaning of this term, see in Exodus, Seder Bo, Note 209. which is taught in the Torath Kohanim32Torath Kohanim, Shemini Milu’im 42. Ramban quoted it above, 10:6. where it is clearly explained that this verse is a proper prohibition [and not a mere negation], as it is taught: “And ye shall not go out from the door of the Tent of Meeting.33Above, 8:33. I might think that [upon becoming apprised of the death of a near relative, an ordinary priest may not leave the Sanctuary] whether he is ministering or not; Scripture therefore says, Neither shall he go out of the Sanctuary, nor shall he profane. When is he not permitted to go out [so that only by his staying there] he does not profane it? I must say that this applies only when he is ministering.” And it further states there [in the Torath Kohanim]:34Torath Kohanim, Shemini Milu’im 43. “I would only know that this tells me that Aaron and his sons, who were anointed with the oil of anointment, are liable to death [by the hand of Heaven] if they leave the Sanctuary while they are ministering. How do I know that this [prohibition] applies also to all priests of all times? etc.” Thus it is clear that the verse before us constitutes an actual negative commandment, prohibiting the priest from leaving the Service and going out [of the Sanctuary].
Therefore I say in order to maintain the words of all the Sages [i.e., of Rashi and of the author of the Hilchoth Gedoloth, as will be explained], that the main purpose of this verse is to admonish the High Priest not to leave the Sanctuary while he is ministering, on [becoming apprised of] the death of any near relative, and he is not to profane the Sanctuary by leaving its Service for the honor of the dead. Instead, the honor of the Sanctuary and its Service is to be greater to him than his honor of and love for the dead, and it follows all the more so that if he left his ministration for no reason at all, and went out of the Sanctuary, that he has violated this negative commandment. However, Scripture warned him with [especial] reference to the dead, in order [incidentally] to permit the High Priest to perform the Service when he is an onen (a mourner),28See above, Seder Shemini, Note 85. and since it is permissible for him to perform it, therefore if he leaves it voluntarily it constitutes a profanation of the Sanctuary. This is the meaning of this verse, and I have already written it in the section of Vay’hi Bayom Ha’shemini.35Above 10:6.
We find furthermore that our Rabbis have differed in the second chapter of Tractate Zebachim [on this matter, namely whether the verse before us is a prohibition, or a mere negation]. Thus they have said:36Zebachim 16 a. “How do we know that an onen [who performs] profanes the Service? Because it is written, Neither shall he [i.e., the High Priest] go out of the Sanctuary, nor profane; but any other priest who does not go out [of the Sanctuary], does profane it [i.e., if he officiates when he is an onen]. And Rabbi Ilai37Ibid., Rabbi Eleazar. said, We derive it from this verse: Behold, this day have they offered their sin-offering and their burnt-offering38Above, 10:19. The verse refers to the day when Aaron’s two sons — Nadab and Abihu — died, and Aaron the High Priest performed the Service on that day. When Moses was angry with Elazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s two remaining sons, for not eating a certain offering as required, but burning it instead, Aaron intervened by replying: “Did they perform the rites of the offerings? It was I, the High Priest, who ministered, and the High Priest may indeed minister whilst an onen. And as for the reason why that offering was burnt etc.” (see above, 10:19). — it is ‘I’ [Aaron — the High Priest] who offered! From this you may learn that if they [Aaron’s sons — Elazar and Ithamar] had performed the rites of the offerings, they would have acted correctly [in burning them, since common priests who minister when in a state of aninuth (mourning) invalidate the Service] etc. And Rabbi Ilai, why does he not derive this principle from the verse, Neither shall he go out of the Sanctuary, nor profane? He will answer you: Is it after all written, ‘But any other priest who does not go out of the Sanctuary does profane it’?” The meaning of [Rabbi Ilai’s answer] is that since Scripture states an admonition with reference to the High Priest, that he is not to leave the Sanctuary and that he should not profane the Service by leaving it [on becoming apprised of the death of a near relative], there is no implication here that a common priest does profane the Service if he officiates when he is an onen [and hence Rabbi Ilai resorted to another verse — Behold, this day etc.38Above, 10:19. The verse refers to the day when Aaron’s two sons — Nadab and Abihu — died, and Aaron the High Priest performed the Service on that day. When Moses was angry with Elazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s two remaining sons, for not eating a certain offering as required, but burning it instead, Aaron intervened by replying: “Did they perform the rites of the offerings? It was I, the High Priest, who ministered, and the High Priest may indeed minister whilst an onen. And as for the reason why that offering was burnt etc.” (see above, 10:19). — from which he learned that a common priest who is an onen profanes the Service]. From this text, then, there is another proof that it is not [merely] a permission [that the Torah extended] to the High Priest, permitting him to perform the Service, and informing him that his ministration will not become profaned [as Rashi had stated it], for if that were the case, it would surely have followed that a common priest does profane it by ministering [when he is an onen]. Thus it appears from the interpretation of the text,39The significance of this phrase of Ramban (“the interpretation of the text”), becomes clearer later on in the text, as another interpretation is offered by the author. At this point here Ramban is saying that the plain interpretation of the Beraitha shows that the First Sage agrees with Rashi’s view that the verse before us is a mere negation, and not an admonition to the High Priest (see following note). that according to the opinion of the first answer [stated above, that we know that an onen profanes the Service from the verse about the High Priest, Neither shall he go out etc., which teaches by implication: “but any other priest who does not go out, does profane it”], it constitutes a mere negation as far as the High Priest is concerned,40Ramban’s meaning is as follows: Since the First Sage of this Beraitha derives the admonition against a common priest ministering whilst in mourning from the verse about the High Priest [as explained in the text], this perforce shows that this Sage holds that with reference to the High Priest, the verse is a mere negation, and the reasoning is as follows: “Since Scripture states that the High Priest need not leave his ministration, we understand by implication that the common priest must leave it.” Thus with reference to the High Priest the verse is a mere negation, but, by implication, it is an admonition to the common priest. Rashi’s interpretation quoted at the beginning of this verse, that the verse is a negation, is thus justified and is in accord with the opinion of this Beraitha. — Thus far Ramban argued on the basis of the interpretation of the text of the Beraitha, that it substantiates Rashi’s position. Ramban will now turn his attention to the fact that a cursory reading of the Beraitha does convey the thought that the verse is an admonition to the High Priest, which is the opinion of the Hilchoth Gedoloth [as mentioned above], and he will explain the Beraitha accordingly. Thus Ramban has “validated the words of all the Sages” — Rashi and Hilchoth Gedoloth as he promised above in the text. [to teach us] that he does not profane his Service [and invalidate it if he officiates whilst he is an onen], as is the language of Rashi. However, because in the Beraitha [quoted above] it is clearly stated that it is an admonition [an opinion held by the Hilchoth Gedoloth], we shall say that they41“They.” The reference may be to “the masters of the Halachoth” (see Note 30 above). hold that since the admonition pertains only to the High Priest, and by implication we reason that a common priest does go out [of the Sanctuary] and leave the ministration, from this we learn that [if the common priest would continue ministering], the Service would be profaned, for if it would have been valid, [the Torah] would not have permitted him to leave it. And so it is taught in the Torath Kohanim in this section:42Torath Kohanim, Emor 2:6. “How do we know that if [the High Priest] officiates [whilst he is an onen] that his Service is valid? Because Scripture says, Nor shall he profane. But if a common priest officiates whilst in mourning, his Service is invalid.”
Now as to the text written in Tractate Sanhedrin:43Sanhedrin 18 a. — Ramban now quotes a text showing that the verse ‘Neither shall he go out of the Sanctuary,’ prohibits the High Priest from following the bier of his near relative, so that he should not become defiled thereby and thus “go out from his sanctity” (see Note 44 further). From this text it would then appear that the verse is not an admonition against his going out of the Sanctuary because of the honor of the Service, but because of the honor of his own sanctity, which would thus be a contradiction to what was said above. This, in short, is the intention of Ramban in quoting this text, and further on he will remove the difficulty. “Neither shall he go out ‘min hamikdash’ (of the Sanctuary) — this means that he may not follow after the bier with the bearers, but [he may go forth with them as long as they do not see one another, thus:] when they [who form the funeral cortege] are hidden [from his view, as when entering an alley], he [the High Priest] appears; when they emerge, he disappears [in the alley]. These are the words of Rabbi Meir. But Rabbi Yehudah says: He may not go forth from the Sanctuary at all, for it is said, Neither shall he go out of the Sanctuary.” And [in the Gemara there] the Rabbis explained that the reason of Rabbi Meir is that he interprets the verse as follows: “‘u’min hamikdash — out of his sanctity — he shall not go forth,’44That is to say, he is to guard himself against being defiled by the dead. This implies that he is to follow the bier, but must guard himself against touching it or its bearers, and hence he must never be in sight of the funeral cortege. and as long as he has some distinction [to remind him not to defile himself, namely, the fact that he is not in sight of the funeral cortege], he will not come to touch the dead. And Rabbi Yehudah [is of the opinion that] on account of his grief, he might by chance touch it.” [Now this whole text would seem to indicate that the verse before us is an admonition whose purpose is to guard the sanctity of the High Priest, and not, as we have said above, that its purpose is to guard the sanctity of the Service!] However, all this is merely a Scriptural support for a Rabbinic ordinance. It is they [i.e., the Rabbis] who [decided to] guard the dignity of the High Priest, that he should not go out after the bier, because he is not permitted to defile himself for near relatives; and since people are upset about their dead, [they feared] lest he will touch it, similar to that which is written, And Joseph fell upon his father’s face.45Genesis 50:1. But a common priest must defile himself for his near relatives, and he is not so upset about other people that there is a fear lest he defile himself; [therefore there was no need for the Rabbis to institute a restriction against a common priest following the funeral cortege of people other than his near relatives]. Thus it is clear that all this is a mark of distinction [for the High Priest] by law of the Rabbis, and they gave it support by reference to this verse, as is the manner of asmachtoth46See in Exodus, p. 314, Note 449. in the Talmud. So also have I found in the Tosephta of Sanhedrin:47Tosephta, Sanhedrin 2:1. On “Tosephta” see above in Seder Tazria, Note 124. “The Sages said to Rabbi Yehudah: The verse Neither shall he go out of the Sanctuary, only refers to his leaving the Sanctuary at the time of ministration.” There are also proofs in the Talmud Yerushalmi there,48Yerushalmi, Sanhedrin II, 1. On “Yerushalmi,” see above in Seder Metzora, Note 44. [to the correctness of this explanation], but this is not the place to mention them.49In his comments to Rambam’s Sefer Hamitivoth, Principle Five, Ramban does quote this Yerushalmi at length.