The end of parshas Balak is the sin at Shitim with the Bnos Moav, culminating in the sin of Zimri and Cozbi. Pinchas kills them both, stopping the plague. That would have been a good place to stop, but the last verse says (Numbers 25:9):

וַיִּהְי֕וּ הַמֵּתִ֖ים בַּמַּגֵּפָ֑ה אַרְבָּעָ֥ה וְעֶשְׂרִ֖ים אָֽלֶף׃

Those who died of the plague numbered twenty-four thousand.

That's a rather depressing note. The Rema in OC 138:1 says:

. וִיכַוֵּן שֶׁיַּתְחִיל תָּמִיד לִקְרֹא בְּדָבָר טוֹב, וִיסַיֵּם בְּדָבָר טוֹב

And one should aim to always begin to read on a good matter and to end on a good matter

Why does the parsha end in a way that doesn't fit this halacha? Better yet, stop before the whole story with Shittim. I must admit I haven't checked this Rema against every aliyah in the Torah, and for all I know there are other counter examples, but this one is pretty striking. Now I wonder if someone would argue that it's good the sinners died, but I think it's pretty bad that the sinning got to such a level that that many died.

  • Better yet, why not end the parshah later on, when HaShem rewards Pinchas for his actions? – DonielF Jul 9 '17 at 2:55
  • Where to end the parsha isn't a choice, as Aliyah breaks are. That halakha is about Aliyah breaks within a parsha – Double AA Jul 9 '17 at 2:59
  • Noach ends with Terach's death. Toldos ends with Eisav joining forces with Yishmael to kill Yaakov at the right opportunity. Mikeitz ends with the winebearer forgetting Yosef. Vayechi ends with Yosef's death. Va'eira ends with Paroh reneging on his promise to let the Jews go. Ki Seitzei ends with the pleasant reminder of what Amalek did and the commandment to wipe them out. Ha'azinu ends with HaShem telling Moshe he won't enter Eretz Yisrael. Vezos Haberachah ends with Moshe's death, and that nobody will ever be like he was. (Con't) – DonielF Jul 9 '17 at 3:08
  • For those communities that read Im Kesef, the parshah ends with the curse that one who afflicts orphans and widows, his wife will become a widow and his children orphans, and he will die. – DonielF Jul 9 '17 at 3:09
  • As @DoubleAA alluded to, the siman you quoted, with its discussion of reading no less than 3 Pesukim rather than 10 would seem to be discussing aliyos rather than parshios. – DonielF Jul 9 '17 at 3:10

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