That’s the perfect conclusion to the ספר dedicated to קדושה. It starts with קדושת מקום, continues with קדושת אדם, then קדושת זמן and through שמיטה and יובל ties it back to קדושת מקום, then the sealing of the ברית with the attendant rewards and punishments, then ends with אלה החקים והמשפטים והתורת to sum it all up.
But it doesn’t end there. There are 4 more aliyot, all boring stuff about ערכין, the valuation of donations to the מקדש. Valid halachot, to be sure, but why put them at the end of the ספר? Why not include them with all the other laws of donations?
There are two basic approaches to this question in the commentators: either this chapter is an epilogue, or an appendix. The difference is in how we see the placement of these laws: do they belong specifically here, at the end of the ספר, after the תוכחה, or does it belong outside the entire book, and it’s placed at the end because that’s the place to put “extra” material?
Sforno notes that ערכין are voluntary, as opposed to the obligatory commandments that form the basis of the covenant. The mitzvot here are not part of that covenant:
Rav Hirsch makes the point even stronger. The danger is that we see the donations to the Temple as essence of Judaism, ignoring the true source of קדושה:
Epilogues are for tying up loose ends. I don’t like epilogues in novels; I don’t need to know the details of how they “lived happily ever after” in a work of fiction. If the story held my attention, I can use my own imagination to see where it goes. And if it didn’t, adding a superfluous chapter won’t help. But ספר ויקרא is not a narrative. It is primarily a book of laws, and it might make sense that the discussion of the laws would end with a discussion of the consequences of those laws but there may be ramifications of those consequences that need to be mentioned.
The כלי יקר takes this as a negative comment:
Rabbi Leibtag notes that ויקרא starts with the laws of נדרים, which are voluntary sacrifices, and ends with ערכין, other voluntary donations. He calls these “bookends” to the dry obligations of the rest of the ספר:
I found a very nice thought on a blog called ”Consistently Under Construction“. It’s anonymous (the author describes herself as “an American born halachah observant Jewish woman living in Jerusalem”) so we have to take it solely at face value, but she brings an approach that is a synthesis of the appendix and epilogue approaches:
And I think that is a valuable perspective on how we see halacha.