Blog posts about the Rabbi Aviva Cohen Mysteries and their author Rabbi Ilene Schneider

During Hallel at services during Shavuot, I was struck by the contemporary relevance of Psalm 115. Here is a modern translation:

They have mouths, but  cannot speak.
They have eyes, but cannot see.
They have ears, but cannot hear.
They have noses, but cannot smell.
They have hands, but cannot feel.
They have feet, but cannot walk.
They have mouths, but cannot make a sound.
They will become like the idols they made and trust in them.

With just a few emendations, what the psalmist wrote applies to any fanatic who follows a tyrant or a doctrinaire belief system:

They have mouths, but cannot engage in rational or respectful debate.
They have eyes, but cannot see the evidence in front of them.
They have ears, but cannot hear opposing points of view.
They have noses, but can’t smell when something’s not right.
They have hands, but can’t feel for the suffering of others.
They have feet, but can’t walk away from what is wrong.
They have mouths, but cannot question what they are told.
These extremists have already become like their idols and believe what they say.

Comments on: "PSALM 115 AND RELEVANCE TODAY" (7)

  1. Very interesting, Rabbi Ilene! I, too, am often struck by the contemporary relevance of the Psalms and other books of the Bible. I like to say that reading the headlines of the NYT is like reading the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. 🙂

    Of course, Psalm 115 refers to man-made idols that the people were worshipping at the time. As you are aware, the verse prior to the one where you start your quote says this: “Their idols are mere silver and gold, made by human hands.” God was obviously dealing with a blatant violation of the First Commandment and teaching the foolishness and sinfulness of worshipping the creation instead of the Creator.

    I am interested in your application of these verses to a “tyrant or a doctrinaire belief system.” To what specific system or systems are you referring?

    Shalom, my friend!

    MaryAnn Diorio, PhD, MFA
    Truth through Fiction®️

    When I write, I feel God’s pleasure!

  2. Llyn K. said:

    Timeless. The ancient Hebrew scriptures continue to educate and warn us about the choices that humans make even today. The authors were good psychologists as well as beautiful writers.

  3. Hate is an idol and those that worship hate can only commit evil whether by word or deed.

  4. Thanks for this post. It is spot-on.

  5. Interesting! Thanks for sharing. It also strikes me that the verses are talking about a sense of isolation–that those who are blinded and cut off from their senses, their ability to “feel” the world around them don’t have the proper tools to be a part of the world around them. In a Biblical sense, that inability is sin, but outside a religious interpretation, how can we use that idea to find a way to connect? Thanks for sharing this. the perspective is really useful.

    Laurel Peterson

  6. Thought-provoking perspective. Thanks!

  7. Very timely in light of the election year and recent awful events. Great post!

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