Sefer Vayikra is a book of two halves and the abrupt change takes place in the middle of our sedra, Achrei Mos.
The first 17 chapters of Sefer Vayikra all relate to the Mishkan. It covers topics such as korbonos, rules of kohanim, tumah and taharah, the dedication ceremony of the Mishkan and the avodah of the Kohen Gadol on Yom Kippur.
Then, halfway in to our sedra, from chapter 18 onwards, Sefer Vayikra deals with a litany of miscellaneous topics starting with prohibited relationships and then “kedoshim tihiyu” to shemittah, erechin vows and much in between.
Notably, the phrase “Ani Hashem Elokeichem” appears over fifty times from chapter 18 onwards and only once in the first 17 chapters of Vayikra.
Rav Menachem Leibtag gives the following wonderful explanation.
Some people may mistakenly think that the Shechina, the Divine Presence of Hashem, is limited to the Mishkan, Beis HaMikdash or even just our own shuls. This is not true. Hashem’s Presence and message must be disseminated into everyday life. Judaism is 24/7, 365 days a year. Judaism is less of a theology and more of a way of life.
To convey this idea, the phrase “Ani Hashem Elokeichem” is not needed in the first half of Sefer Vayikra as that primarily deals with the Mishkan. Even the one time it does appear in the first 17 chapters of Vayikra is in relation to Kashrus and not the Mishkan per se.
But when Sefer Vayikra moves on to cover a host of miscellaneous topics, the phrase “Ani Hashem Elokeichem” needs to repeated over and over to remind us to bring Hashem in to every aspect of our lives.
This is a message we need to convey and model to our children and students. To live a life of Torah, recognising that Hashem’s Presence goes beyond the walls of shul, and adhere carefully to Halacha which demonstrates that HKBH is wholly integrated in to our daily lives.
Rabbi J Golker