They have mouths, but cannot speak,
eyes, but cannot see.
They have ears, but cannot hear,
nor is there breath in their mouths.
Those who make them will be like them,
and so will all who trust in them. — Psalm 135:16–18
Many people dream of winning the lottery. While we all agree that money can’t buy happiness, it doesn’t stop us from thinking that a lot of money would make life much easier, and with that would come happiness, right?
Consider the story of Lara and Roger Griffiths. They thought winning the lottery was the greatest thing to happen to them, but now they say that winning the lottery wrecked their lives.
Upon winning the lottery, the couple began fulfilling all their long-held dreams. Roger reunited his high school rock band and produced a record. Lara opened a beauty salon. The two then bought all the things they couldn’t afford previously and went on luxury vacations. Sounds like a dream, right?
However, the dream became a nightmare when Lara discovered that her husband had an affair. Then Roger revealed that their money was all gone, spent on unsuccessful ventures, bad investments, or squandered by the two. Within years after winning the lottery, Lara was working in the beauty salon she once owned, Roger was living with his parents, and the couple’s marriage was destroyed. They were worse off than before the big win!
Psalm 135 warns us, “The idols of the nations are silver and gold” (v. 15). Many people worship money. They crave it, live for it, and love it. However, money is empty. It is an idol like the psalmist described, “They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but cannot see. They have ears, but cannot hear, nor is there breath in their mouths.” There is no life in idols or money, and neither can give us life.
The psalmist further cautioned us, “Those who make them [idols] will be like them, and so will all who trust in them.” Just as gold and silver are without the ability to see, hear, or speak, so too, will be those who trust in them. They won’t see the truth, hear the truth, or speak the truth. They will be blind, deaf, and speak lies. They are destined to make bad decisions, resulting in a messy life.
Is money a bad thing? Certainly not! Money, when used properly, can help us on our life’s journey and service to God. However, it is a means to an end and not an end in itself. Only God can fill us with the joy, love, and security that we all crave. Only God can guide us and lead us on a path that will be most satisfying. Only God can give us life. And that is worth more than anything money can buy.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President