Sefer Vayikra has lots of laws in it, and then it closes with an appropriate conclusion, namely, the story of what happens to Israel if it chooses to follow those laws, or if (ח"ו) Israel strays from God's laws. The final verse appears to be a coda for the book of Vayikra as a whole (26:46):

אֵלֶּה הַחֻקִּים וְהַמִּשְׁפָּטִים וְהַתּוֹרֹת אֲשֶׁר נָתַן ה' בֵּינוֹ וּבֵין בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל--בְּהַר סִינַי בְּיַד-מֹשֶׁה

These are the laws, rules, and instructions that the LORD established, through Moses on Mount Sinai, between Himself and the Israelite people.

But wait! We're not done! Although I was about to put away my Chumash thinking that this must be the conclusion, all of the sudden I see that God speaks to Moshe again to tell him about the laws of dedications, some extra details about how to evaluate certain items one might want to dedicate to God and ramifications of those laws regarding land and such.

What is this passage doing here? Did we have to throw in some details that were forgotten in previous passages? Why would these laws be taught after what otherwise seems like a very logical conclusion to the Sefer?

4 Answers 4


First, it should be noted that this is only a question if you assume that the Torah is meant to be in some sort of order. Although many commentators do make such an assumption, it shouldn't necessarily be taken for granted.

Ramban and Rabbeinu Bachayei: in reality, the section on reward and punishment should not be seen as a conclusion to Sefer Vayikra, but rather as an extension of the prior discussion regarding the land and its resting years. Thus, the Torah went from discussing shemittah and yovel, to what happens if those shemittah laws are violated, to discussing more details about the yovel's consequences for evaluating land.

רמב"ן: גם זו הפרשה דבוקה, שהיתה בהר סיני מחוברת אל התוכחות, כי היא במשפטי היובל כמו שהזכיר במקדיש שדה מקנה (להלן פסוקים כג-כד) ושדה אחוזה (שם יז יח), אלא שכלל משפטי כל הנודרים בפרשה אחת. ולכך אמר בסוף (פסוק לד) אלה המצות אשר צוה ה' את משה אל בני ישראל בהר סיני, על כל הנאמרות למעלה, כי מכאן ואילך ידבר במצות אהל מועד

רבינו בחיי: פרשה הזו בדיני הערכין מדיני היובל היא, וכן הוא מזכיר ענין היובל במקדיש שדה מקנה ובשדה אחוזה

Midrash (in Rabbeinu Bachayei and Baal HaTurim): dedications based upon the evaluation of people atones or protects from the curses listed in the previous section.

רבינו בחיי: וע"ד המדרש בערכך נפשות, אמר הקב"ה לישראל אם אתם מביאין לפני ערכין מעלה אני עליכם כאלו הקרבתם נפשותיכם לפני, אמר הקב"ה לישראל בזכות הערכין אני מציל אתכם מעריכות גיהנם, שנאמר (ישעיה ל) כי ערוך מאתמול תפתה, ואערוך לפניכם שלחן לעתיד לבא, שנאמר (תהלים כג) תערוך לפני שלחן

בעל הטורים: בפרשת ערכין יש נ' שקלים ול' שקלים וכ' שקלים וי' שקלים וה' שקלים וג' שקלים וט"ו שקלים וי' שקלים בין זכר לנקבה, שהוא סך הכל קמ"ג שקלים, לכפר על מ"ה קללות שבת"כ וצ"ח שבמשנה תורה שהם בין הכל קמ"ג, ולכך סמך ערכין לקללות

Kli Yakar: it is the way of Jews to swear dedications to God in times of trouble, such as the times of curses detailed in the previous section.

סמך פר' זו לקללות לומר שישראל נודרים בעת צרה כיעקב שהיה נודר בעת צרה ליתן מעשר מכל


Rav Hirsch seems to understand that the Sefer up to this point focuses on one general concept, while these last passages, beginning with Arachin, are fundamentally different – hence their position at the end, almost as an afterthought. In his own words (as translated by Feldheim):

The book of Vayikra teaches us our duty to the Sanctuary of the Torah. We are to symbolize through offerings and to realize in practice the sanctification of our lives as individuals and as a nation. And, finally, the preceding chapter states that the חוקים משפטים ותורות — which tell us what we must do in order to hallow our lives as individuals and as a nation — are the sole intermediaries of the covenant between ourselves and God, and the sole means for assuring our welfare.

Scripture now adds a concluding chapter on voluntary donations to the Sanctuary. A person feels the need or has the desire to give to the Sanctuary an object or its equivalent value, in order to demonstrate his special interest in the Sanctuary, or to signify the special relationship that — in his view — exists between the object and the Sanctuary.

These donations to the Sanctuary are called here הפלאת נדר (v. 2 כי יפליא נדר). They are not required by law, and do not stem from the requirements of the law. Rather, they spring purely from one’s own feelings.

It is characteristic that this chapter, which deals with donations to the Sanctuary, appears — by its position — merely as a supplementary concluding chapter. Scripture thus explicitly states that this chapter is not included among the חוקים משפטים ותורות, which God has set as the condition בינו ובין בני ישראל, and whose fulfillment will result in the fullness of blessing, and whose violation will bring about all the misery described in the preceding chapter. The donations to the Sanctuary are clearly separated from the חוקים משפטים ותורות, and this teaches us an important point:

תורת כהנים, the Jewish priestly code, does not attach special value to Sanctuary donations, and does not see in them special piety, especially pleasing to God. Certainly, then, it does not ascribe to them the power to atone for a sinful life. The Sanctuary of the כהנים sees its mission not in gaining possessions, but in gaining hearts and souls. It seeks to gain the whole of our lives — as individuals and as a nation — for the fulfillment of the חוקים, the משפטים, and the תורות. The sanctification of morality, the safeguarding of justice in society, the enlightenment of the mind and the ennoblement of the heart — the חוקים, the משפטים, and the תורות — they are the sole means of attaining God’s grace. It is they that mediate בינו ובין בני ישראל, and only they bring man closer to God, and God closer to man.


R. Menachem Leibtag suggests the following approach here (emphases mine):

Recall that Parshat Vayikra itself, the first parsha of the Sefer, is also not located where it should be (i.e. it is not recorded according to its chronological order).

[Recall that the mitzvot of Parshat Vayikra were given to Moshe from the Ohel Moed (see 1:1), and hence only after the Sh'china had returned to the Mishkan on the Yom HaShmini. Therefore, it should have been recorded only after the story of the seven day miluim and Yom HaShmini (chapters 8-10). Furthermore, the Torah states explicitly that laws in Parshat Tzav were given on Har Sinai (see 7:37-38), and hence they also should have been recorded before Parshat Vayikra.]

Thus, we find even though both the opening and concluding parshiot of Sefer Vayikra belong within the sefer, the Torah records them as a 'header' and 'footer' instead. Why are specifically these two parshiot chosen to serve as the 'bookends' of Sefer Vayikra?

Parshat Vayikra and parshat "erchin" share a common theme. They both deal with an individual dedicating an object to 'hekdesh.' Both begin with cases where a person offers a voluntary gift (n'dava), and they both close with obligatory offerings: Parshat Vayikra begins with olah and shlamim (voluntary) followed by chatat and asham (obligatory). Parshat "erchin" begins with the voluntary offering of the value of a person, animal or field, followed by the obligatory mitzvot of 'b'chor' and 'ma'aser.'

[Vayikra deals with korbanot actually offered on the mizbayach (kodshei mizbayach) while Erchin deals with the value of objects that cannot be offered; their value is given instead to the 'general fund' of the Temple - "kodshei bedek ha'bayit."]

One could suggest that the Torah intentionally chose parshiot dealing with the offerings of an individual, primarily the voluntary offerings, to form the 'bookends' of Sefer Vayikra for the following reason.

As we have seen, Sefer Vayikra focuses on the kedusha of the Mishkan and of the nation. These lofty goals of the Sh'china's dwelling upon an entire nation can easily lead the individual to underestimate his own importance. Furthermore, the rigid detail of the mitzvot of Vayikra may lead one to believe that there is little room for self-initiated expression in his own relationship with God, as our covenantal obligations could be viewed as dry and technical.

To counter these possible misconceptions, the Torah may have placed these two parshiot at the opening and conclusion of Sefer Vayikra in order to stress two important tenets of "avodat Hashem." First, that despite the centrality of the community, the individual cannot lose sight of the value and importance of his role as an integral part of the communal whole. Second, the rigidity of "halacha" should not stifle personal expression. Rather, it should form the solid base from which the individual can develop an aspiring, dynamic and personal relationship with God.


See the Kli Yakar:

איש כי יפליא נדר וגו'. סמך פר' זו לקללות לומר שישראל נודרים בעת צרה כיעקב שהיה נודר בעת צרה ליתן מעשר מכל, אבל לא כיעקב מכל וכל כי יעקב גם אחר שעברה הצרה לא סר מן הדרך הטוב, אבל לדורות זה דרכם כסל למו שנודרים בעת צרה ובעבור סופה צרה וצוקה הם מתחרטים ושבים לסורם וזה כמשל הקנה שקלל בו אחיה השילוני את ישראל (מלכים א' יד טו) כי הקנה הזה אינו נכנע כי אם בזמן שהרוח נושב בו וכנוח הרוח הוא חוזר ועומד בקומה זקופה כבראשונה, כך ישראל אינן נכנעים כי אם בזמן שהצרה משמשת וירא ישראל כי היתה הרוחה והכבד את לבו כי בסור המכריח ישובו לסורם, ומסכים לדברינו מה שפירש בעל הטורים (כז א) שכל מספר השקלים קמ"ג כנגד קמ"ג קללות שבתורת כהנים ובמשנה תורה (עיין מדרש תדשא אוצר המדרשים ע' 480), וכי מפני שמספרם שוה נסמכו להדדי, אלא לומר לך שקמ"ג קללות שבתוכחה גורמין נדרי קמ"ג שקלים כי אין ישראל נודרים ליתן מן ממונם לשם ה' כי אם בשעה שהצרות מכריחין אותן, כמו שיתבאר בע"ה לקמן פרשת וילך (לא יז) על פסוק והיה כי תמצאן אותו רעות רבות וצרות. שדרשו רז"ל (חגיגה ה.) על המלוה לעני בשעת דחקו, ודרש זה רחוק לקבלו שכל הצרות לא יכריחום אל הוידוי כי אם צרה זו, על כן רצוני לפרש שזה מדבר במלוה לעני בבא הצרה דווקא דהיינו בשעת דחקו של המלוה כי הצרות דוחקין אותו לזה לידור נדרים לצדקה, וטעות של הנודר על זה האופן יתבאר בעזרת ה' לקמן פר' וילך, על כן סמך פרשת כי יפליא לפרשת התוכחה ודבר הכתוב בהווה. אבל כל מה שהאדם עושה בלא הכרח מרצון זהו נקרא יום רצון לה' (ישעיה נח ה) ויפק רצון מה' (משלי ח לה). תם ספר ויקרא - בעזרת האל הגדול הגבור והנורא.

The Kli Yakar says that the Parsha of Arachin is juxtaposed to the Parsha of the Klalos because the Jewish people are emulating the actions of Yaakov Avinu, who made pledges when he found himself in difficult times.

I would like to suggest my own idea. The Torah details the laws of Arachin directly after the tochechas to remind us that though hearing all the curses can be overwhelming and daunting, remember that we all have an inherent worth in the eyes of Hashem.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .