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The second aliya of Vayeira begins at 18:15, with the end of the Sarah-denying-having-laughed episode. It then goes on to focus on S'dom and the other cities. This happens in the middle of a column, not near a "paragraph" break of either sort, so the division isn't dictated by those boundaries so far as I can tell. Nor is 18:15 a "down" note that we wouldn't want to end an aliya on.

So why is 18:15 the first verse of the second aliya and not the last verse of the first one?

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Prompted by the weekly topic challenge, and having leined this and wondered at the time... – Monica Cellio Mar 29 '12 at 21:02
I'm guessing it's to end on a high note ("son") rather than a somewhat low note ("you laughed", which was viewed as a bad thing). As it's purely a guess, though, I'm not posting it as an answer. – msh210 Mar 29 '12 at 21:08
As @msh210 posted 31 seconds before me, I dont know the source of offhand, but we try to end Aliyot on a positive note. Instead of ending with a criticism of Sara, we end with a promise for children. Thats my guess at least, but perhaps someone discusses it. – Baal Shemot Tovot Mar 29 '12 at 21:08
up vote 6 down vote accepted

Ephraim Stulberg, in an interesting article on the subject of the division of Aliyot (available here), suggests that as an extension of the theme of ending on a good note, the 'divisors' tried to end aliyot with dramatic and uplifting messages as a climax to the aliya. His examples are: Gen 9:17, 13:4, 13:18, 19:20, 28:22, 33:5, 33:20, 42:18, 49:18, Ex 9:16, 14:8, Lev 9:23, and Num 14:7. He lists Gen 18:14 as a possible member of this category, because it is quite exciting and climactic when Sara first hears she will have a child.

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You should probably provide excerpts from the examples he provides, for passers-by without a text handy. :) – Aarthi Apr 24 '12 at 18:01
@Aarthi I can try to do so later on. In my defense, the original author himself only brought an except from one of them (Gen 42:18) and left the others as references. – Double AA Apr 24 '12 at 18:06
Ah! Totally understandable; I mostly meant that from my perspective. As someone with neither reference materials handy, nor a better knowledge of scriptures, I find it hard to judge answers that are more citation than material, you know? Not a slight against you -- a request from an acknowledged gentile. :D – Aarthi Apr 24 '12 at 18:12
@Aarthi Done. And remember that you always have reference materials handy: mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt0.htm :) – Double AA Apr 24 '12 at 18:20
Wow, how many comments are there from @Aarthi on the content of M.Y. questions and answers? – Seth J Oct 16 '13 at 14:01

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