If you've attended shul on Shabbat more than a handful of times, you're probably aware of the fact that the weekly Torah portion, or parsha, is divided into seven sections. These sections correspond with the number of aliyot meaning "calling up." For each aliyah, a reader is called to the bimah to recite a blessing for the gift of Torah.
So, sure, you know all that...but have you ever noticed that each reading ends on a positive note, even those in the midst of a dismal parsha? This is no accident.
As this recent article in J Weekly explains, the Shulchan Aruch, our most widely consulted halachic code, cautions that "one should aim to always begin reading [each aliyah] on a good note and end reading it on a good note as well."
Rabbi Yonaton Cohen, the author of the J Weekly article, believes that the rabbis elected to break up each parsha this way to demonstrate what might be described as the power of positive thinking. "Time and time again," he writes, "those who divided the Torah chose blessings over curses, life over death, hope over despair."