In Parshat Balak, Bilam praises Bnei Yisrael as “Am LeVadad Yishkon UVaGoyim Lh Yitchasheiv,” “A people that shall dwell apart and not be reckoned among the nations” (23:9). The Netziv in his Sefer HaEimek Davar explains the meaning behind this blessing. He says that Bilam is pointing out a difference between Bnei Yisrael and the rest of the nations. When another nation is exiled from their land, the nations in the land they move to usually admire them more than they did when they were in their original land. It is just the opposite in regard to the Jews. Only when we “dwell apart” from the other nations and do not assimilate will we be admired. This is shown by what happened in Mitzrayim. The Jews decided that to get on the good side of the Egyptians, they would start acting the Egyptians and stop practicing certain parts of Judaism. The result was the exact opposite of what they expected. Instead of finding favor in the eyes of the Egyptians, they were enslaved made miserable (Chazal teach that the same occurred in the Persian exile).
If we “dwell apart” and keep the Torah, then we are admired for our accomplishments. On the other hand, if we become more like the other nations and “dwell among them,” then they will just see us as bothersome people because we no longer have anything positive over the other nations.
May it be Hashem’s will that we will no longer have to worry about living in exile with the other nations, and that Maschiach will come and show the world that Bnei Yisrael really are the chosen and special nation.