We Jews were always a proud people.
We had much to be proud of: Hashem chose us above all others to be His"Am Segulah" - and that made us very proud.
We were proud to be רחמנים בישנים and גומלי חסדים. We were proud that we toiled in His Torah day and night. We knew of the Nachas Hashem got from us, and that made us very proud.
We were proud that we were important enough to Hashem that He created the world for our sake. We knew that Hashem is constantly paying attention to our actions, that His eyes are always upon us.
We were proud to be Jews.
And even when we were persecuted, we were proud. In fact, when we were persecuted we had even one more thing to be proud of - that were not like those who persecuted us. It is when we were persecuted that we would truly thank Hashem שלא עשני גוי.
When the Porutz would humiliate the Jew, forcing him at gunpoint to dance the "Mah Yafis" dance - the Jew was at that moment was very proud - that he was not the Porutz.
Proud Jews - Jews who understood what a Jew is - were never jealous of the lot of the Nations. Why would we want to be anything like them? Even when we were persecuted, tortured, killed, and battered - especially when we were persecuted, tortured, killed and battered - we knew that אשרינו מה טוב חלקינו - we were thankful to Hashem שלא עשני גוי.
Do not let anyone tell you that the Jews in the ghetto were depressed and broken and were dying to break out of the
How did the Jew look at the big, strong, un-persecuted Goyish nations that harassed us?
Imagine living in the jungle. A colony of human beings among a population of animals. It's dangerous in the jungle. Humans can get maimed and killed by the lions and tigers and apes; bitten by poisonous snakes; and chased out of their settlements by stampeding rhinos - persecuted and chased about by the animals, humiliated, being made to scamper away like a thief in the night when the apes come hunting; being made to perhaps abandon all your possessions and run, like a weakling, when the rhinos or elephants stampede across your home. But what human would prefer to be an animal? What human would be jealous of the ape for his strength; the cheetah for his speed; the lion for the "respect" he receives from the fear that he evokes from the weaker animals in the jungle? What kind of human would lament the fact that he is a human and not a gorilla? What human would start to imitate the apes because he feels humbled and humiliated that he is weaker than the wild animals in the jungle?
That is how the Jew looked at his persecutors. Like animals. And worse then animals. Animals have no choice but to be animals; it's how Hashem made them. But human beings who act like animals are lower than any beast. Just as there is no shame or humiliation in knowing that as a human being, you are at the mercy of the wild beasts of the jungle, so too was there no envy for the life of the Goy on the part of the Jew. On the contrary - it is then that the Bracha שלא עשני גוי meant the most.
People are only envious of those that they look at as their equals, and their competition When a dog parks at a person nobody feels his honor sullied; but if a fellow human would publicly scream at him, he may feel humiliated. Pride and humiliation are only felt in response to the act of someone or something you consider a competitor. if the competitor "beats" you at whatever competitive encounter you may have had, if he shows he is the "superior" in whatever standard the competition presented, the loser feels defeated.
But nobody feels "defeated" by a wild animal. Being hurt is not the same as being defeated. Defeat is the result of losing a contest. There is no equanimity and therefore no "contest" between the human and the barking dog. A man who feels insulted or humiliated because a dog barked at him has issues. And a human who envies the ape because of the ape's strength and in his heart of hearts thinks "if only I could be like that ape," has even more issues.
So too, Jews never harbored any envy for the ways or the "success" of the Nations. ?????
Even when they were not persecuting us we harbored no envy of them or admiration for their ways. Let them conquer lands or hit balls out of the park or build skyscrapers or nests or kernels or caves or hives or whatever it is that they like to do. אנו עמלים והם עמלים. We have our job and they have theirs. And we would never trade.
Don't let anyone ever tell you that Jews (to be continued)