I was sitting in Synagogue (Shul) yesterday morning listening to the weekly recital from the Torah. On this occasion, as on many others, we read about the continuing wanderings (and indeed "wonderings") of our forefathers as they trundled their way around the desert for four long decades.
As you may or may not be aware, at one point, they came across a rather nasty character called Bilaam (or Balaam as he is strangely referred to) who despite his best efforts to curse the nation, ended up blessing them and in the process, realising that he'd bitten more than he could chew by not exactly making himself a mate of the good Lord above.
One of the utterances he mouthed gave me food for thought.
Looking over the encamped tribes, he stated majestically:
"I see them as mountain peaks, and I behold them as hills; it is a nation that will dwell alone, and is not reckoned (or counted) with the other nations" (Hebrew- Hen Am levadad yishkon uva-goyim lo yitchashav).
Wow. That really knocked me back.
The Jewish people, even way back then were prophesied to be different to the other nations - not only that, but he said that we would be destined to "dwell alone".
Three thousand, two hundred and ninety years ago.
Fast forward to July 2009 and how alone we still are.
The whole world points its fingers at one county, one nation and blames them for everything that is going wrong. Whether it be our struggle defend ourselves in Gaza (read the vicious reports produced by the caring people at Amnesty International or for that matter, the disgraceful pronouncements coming out of the UN since 1948) - or the pernicious ruling by the Court of Appeal which brands our religion racist for daring to admit children to the JFS according the traditional criteria of what constitutes a Jew - or even the attempts to ban Shechitah in many countries (irrespective of how safe we feel right now about this), whilst simultaneously attempting to brand us "barbaric" for refusing to administer anaesthetics to the baby boys before a bris (something which is against the Torah) - we find ourselves standing alone, so isolated after many many years of hardship.
We were alone when the German massacred our people and today, we are alone again in trying to show people like Obama that the enemy is not Israel, but Syria, Iran and Hamas.
A nation that resides alone.
Instead of trying to understand our current predicament, maybe we should accept the unpalatable truth that all those years ago, Bilaam, uttering the words of G-d, told us everything we will ever need to know about our place in this world.
King Solomon the Wise said "there is nothing new under the sun" (ein kol chadash tachat hashemesh) in Kohelet (Ecclesiastes).
How right both men were.