A phrase in Hallel says:

אף להם ולא יריחון ידיהם

They (i.e., the idols) have a nose, but they can't smell their hands

I know that idols are not humans, so they can't smell like humans do. But, I assume that the idolators were trying to created these idols and treat them as if they were humans. But, if that's the case, why would they intentionally create them with sinus problems or some other nasal condition such that these idols couldn't smell their hands?

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2 Answers 2


I think that the point is not a problem with the nose.

In order to smell your hand you have to move it to your nose. Their hands don't function as we know from the next passuk:

ידיהם, ולא ימישון

So, with hands that don't function there is no way they can smell them.


It was actually the idols themselves who decided to stop smelling their hands.

You see, picking your nose in public is a violation of bal teshaktzu (Ben Ish Chai, Vayikra 1:10, and Peninei Halacha). Every time the idols went outside, the Jews would shout at them "shaketz teshaktzenu ki cherem hu!" (paraphrase of Devarim 7:26) The idols assumed this was because, when they smelled their hands, the Jews thought they were picking their noses. Therefore they decided to no longer smell their hands, in order to not be yelled at as such any more.

This didn't help, but, as the Psalm continues, לא יהגו, the idols don't think, and therefore they kept up this practice despite its ineffectiveness in averting derision.

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