"He did not make us like the nations of the world"

[Be-Ahavah U-Be-Emunah – Vayishlach 5774 – translated by R. Blumberg]


We must constantly praise the Master of all, day and night, whether He gives us everything or nothing. Yet the truth is that He gives us so much blessing, miraculously or naturally, that even if we wanted to praise Him day and night, our praise would not suffice.

We must praise Him for the air we breathe, for the eyes with which we see, for the sun and the moon, for the flowers and the gardens, for our body and soul.  Yet first and foremost, we must praise G-d for not having made us like the nations of the world, and not having placed us like the families of the earth, for not having designed our destiny to be like theirs, nor our lot like that of all their multitude. He is the Master of all, but within that “all”, we stand out. We belong to the family of nations, yet within that family we are unique, bearing the souls of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov, Sarah, Rivka, Rachel and Leah. We are a special family, a marvelous family, an unparalleled family.

We were a family already before the Sinai Revelation, the family of a special Nation, a family eternally beloved. This is the greatest kindness that exists. How fortunate that we are who we are, whether or not we are aware of it.

We see nations – G-d have mercy on them – who are wild men, men on the outside but wild beasts on the inside. Thank G-d He did not make us like them.

We don't hate them. Every day, in the “Aleinu” prayer, we pray for them, thrice daily: “Perfect the world under the reign of the Almighty, such that all mankind will call upon Your Name, and all the wicked of the earth will be turned to You.”

We don't hate them. At the end of our prayers, we pray for them that they should all merit to become righteous nations. On that day, G-d will be one and His Name one. Yet in the meantime, there is only us.

Beloved is man, that he was created in G-d's image, and above him stands Israel, who are called G-d's children. All flesh are destined to be beloved and upright, and to live in eternal peace.

We are the family of Avraham the Hebrew. The entire world was on one side and he was on the other, and together with that, G-d blessed him. “All the nations of the earth shall be blessed through you” (Bereshit 12:3).

As far as all the wicked turning to G-d, that will come to pass. It won't be today or tomorrow, and apparently not the day after tomorrow either, but it will happen, and we shall await it patiently.

We are the disciples of Yehoshua bin Nun, who conquered the Land and settled it. It was he who authored the “Aleinu” prayer, quoted above, which we have recited down through the generations, relating to those same nations who shed our blood and who still continue to do so.

As for us, how good our portion and how pleasant our lot. How fortunate we are to be us!