In contrast to the themes of holiness, priesthood, temple service and purity in the opening chapters of Vayikra, the final portion of the book contains a dark section of rebuke, detailing the consequences of failure to observe God’s laws, with penalties including national disasters, loss of land and persecution.
Yet we do not end on a sad note. After the warning comes a promise that the bonds connecting the Jewish people to God and their homeland will never be totally broken.
That message of hope would have been a fitting conclusion. But then the Torah presents a seemingly obscure set of rules, namely the process by which someone vows to donate the equivalent monetary value of a person, an animal or property.
What connection does this have to what precedes it?
The Kotzker Rebbe explains that what follows the tochecha – the passages of rebuke – is an even more powerful message. God wants us constantly to be aware that whatever happens to us, whether we are thriving or downtrodden, we have tremendous worth as a nation and as individuals: God still values our existence and cherishes our soul.
And so now we see the beautiful symmetry of Vayikra. It began with God’s call to Moses – who felt unworthy of a dialogue with the Divine – and ends with a message to all mankind. God calls not only to the spiritually elevated but to each individual, no matter who they are or where they may be.
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