A Nation that Dwells Apart

Among the curses that turned into blessings by Bilaam, is the Pasuk, הן עם לבדד ישכון ובגוים לא יתחשב, "they are a nation that dwells apart and are not considered among the nations."

This is clearly a blessing for עם ישראל that we are meant to be different from all of the nations of the world. The Rabbis explain this verse to mean that when the Jewish people rejoice, nobody rejoices with them. When the Jewish people mourn, the other nations rejoice.

We are never to forget how special it is to be Jewish and that we are part of a special יעוד, destiny, that we also accepted at Mount Sinai. We are to teach the world what real morality is and we are to lead by example. We are called "the people of the book" and we are also meant to show the beauty and depth of our Torah and its laws.

It's strange that this unique role that the Jewish people have was pointed out by the Gentile, Bilaam. Often we are woken up by non-Jews who remind us of how special it is to be Jewish. Our Parsha gives us another such example.