Kenneth Cohen

Proper Choices

The Baal Haturim was clearly an expert of every word of the Torah, and must have had a phenomenal memory. He made note of the use of the word, ותמלא, “and it was filled,” in Parshat Noach, and again in the beginning of the Book of Exodus.

In Noach, the ותמלא was telling us that the land was filled with חמס, corruption. And in Shemot, “the land was filled with them.” The Torah was describing the incredible number of Jewish babies born in Egypt.

There is a verse in Kohelet 7:14 that says, זה לעמת זה עשה אלוקים, “G-d has made the one as well as the other.” This is a reference to the fact that there is good, and there is evil in the world. It is G-d Himself, who created both, so that man be able to be rewarded with the ultimate good, for choosing good over evil.

In the end of days, evil will be destroyed and good will reign in the world. At that time, G-d will be recognized by the entire world, and His name will be One.

The Rambam wrote that there is a simple way to gauge whether something is good or evil. If it is right in the eyes of Hashem as dictated in the Torah, it is good. If it is contrary to the will of G-d, it is evil. The world would be a much better place, if this was the yardstick used by all nations and individuals.

So it is up to us as to whether the land be filled with corruption, or the land be filled with numerous Jewish babies, forming the holy nation of Israel.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at