The Gemara tells the following story (Ketubot 66b): Rebbe Yochanan ben Zakai was riding on a donkey a short time after the Romans destroyed the Second Temple and vanquished Jerusalem. On the outskirts of the city, he saw a young woman gathering grains of undigested barley from amongst the droppings of Arab-owned cattle. As soon as she noticed him, she sprung to her feet, covered her hair and pleaded, "Rebbe, give me something to sustain myself." He asked her who she was. She answered that she was Nakdamon Ben Gurion's daughter, who before the destruction of the Holy Temple, was the richest man in Jerusalem.
Our sages comment on the above episode and say, "How fortunate you are, O Israel! When you do Hashem's will, you are above the angels; no nation can prevail over you. But when you don't do Hashem's will, you are not only subservient to the most contemptible of nations and even below their cattle, but you are even below the droppings of their cattle."
No, there's not much middle ground for a Jew - it's either good or evil. A tzaddik who maintains a standard of impeccable personal holiness is higher than an angel; he gives off the spiritual fragrance of Gan Eden. But a lowlife who breaches every clause of personal holiness stinks worse than the dung of an animal.
King Solomon in Song of Songs (7:3) describes the Jewish People who fulfill Hashem's will as a "fence of roses". Why a fence of roses? Why the juxtaposition of the beauty and the thorns? What's the praise here?
The Jewish Laws of modesty for women and personal holiness for men seem to many people like thorns in the side. They are! Their purpose is to keep people from toying with the roses, which symbolize the beauty of the Jewish woman. All unauthorized personnel must keep their distance. Anyone who doesn't look at what is not rightfully his by way of holy marital bond will certainly not touch what is not rightfully his. That's the fence of roses.