Here is a poignant vignette from the Saskatchewan Leader-Post. It brought me a smile, just in time for Adar.
A "Black Widow" suicide bomber planned a terrorist attack in central Moscow on New Year's Eve but was killed when an unexpected text message set off her bomb too early, according to Russian security sources.
The unnamed woman, who is thought to be part of the same group that struck Moscow's Domodedovo airport on Monday, intended to detonate a suicide belt near Red Square on New Year's Eve in an attack that could have killed hundreds.
Security sources believe a message from her mobile phone operator wishing her a happy new year received just hours before the planned attack triggered her suicide belt, killing her at a safe house.
Islamist terrorists in Russia often use mobile phones as detonators. The bomber's handler, who is usually watching their charge, sends the bomber a text message in order to set off his or her explosive belt at the moment when it is thought they can inflict maximum casualties.
The Mishkan brings Hashra'as Hashechina, and this requires simcha Learning Torah also brings Hashra'as Hashechina, and also requires simcha. Which requires more simcha? Hashem decreed that Nadav and Avihu had to die for what they did at Har Sinai, and that their death would inaugurate some new connection between Hashem and mankind. Instead of this happening at Mattan Torah, it was delayed until the Mishkan was built. Rashi explains that Hashem did not want to interfere with the joy of Mattan Torah. So you see that Simcha is more essential to the Hashra'a that comes with Torah than that comes with the Mishkan.
In what month did Klal Yisrael finally and without any ambivalence accept the Torah? In Adar. Kimu Ve'Kiblu. Is Adar the month of Kabalas Hatorah because of the simcha, or is the simcha inherent in the month the reason it is the time of the final Kabalas Hatorah? The answer is, Yes. The two factors work together. The Gemara (Pesachim 68b, Rebbi Eliezer) says that on most holidays, one may choose to draw close to Hashem through ascetic contemplation, but there are two and only two holidays (besides Shabbos) that require joyous physical involvement in the day, and those are Purim and Shavuos. The two days of Kabalas Hatorah!
This year is getting Adar and Adar. The weather is odd, the news is odd, the Middle East is turning upside down and inside out, Australia is beginning to remind us of Atlantis, the United States is just waiting for the Mastodons to show up, everything is just odder than ever and getting odder every day. All we need now is for Meretz to declare that they are changing the party charter to focus exclusively on the advancement of Breslev Chasidus. If that's too much to hope for, maybe Ariel Sharon (אריאל בן דבורה לרפואה שלימה) will wake up and, well rested, return with new vigor to his Prime Ministership.
And here is another candidate for Oddness Supreme: The New York Times, the bastion of enlightened secular patronizing snootiness, the mother of anti-religious social engineering, the haven for self-hating Jews, published the following on January 11 of 2011, and I was amazed at the deference and respect it showed, considering the source:
Q.After two years of endless nagging, my kosher boyfriend has finally decided to come over to dark side and, at least for one night, temporarily abandon his dietary restraint. Can you recommend a moderately priced place that serves such good pork and shellfish dishes, he’ll convert permanently?
A.Great food can change minds and alter people’s lives for the better, it’s true. But so can faith, for those who have it. Helping you use food to convince someone to abandon his religious principles cannot end well for me. (Nor for him, if his mother finds out.) The laws of kashrut are clear: No pork. No shellfish.
And so I cannot possibly recommend to you a visit to Momofuku Ssam Bar, where the two banned proteins often combine into Korean-inflected Continental deliciousness, and where a fellow might be introduced to the pleasures of cured hog’s jowl, served with honeycrisp apple kimchi and a Lebanese yogurt cut with maple syrup.
Nor could I nod to the Spanish-style Casa Mono, where you can find a delicious chilled lobster with ham (a combination the great Calvin Trillin would call a double-trayf special). For you there can be no suckling pig at the Italian gem Maialino or pig’s trotter at the British pub the Breslin or barbecued oysters at Tribeca’s American bistro Forgione or clams in black bean sauce at Chinatown’s terrific Oriental Garden.
That said, if you want to skate close to the edge, where the ice is thin and crackly, Chinese is probably your best bet. As my great hero Arthur Schwartz, formerly the restaurant critic for The Daily News of New York, put it in his most recent book, “Jewish Home Cooking,” “the Chinese cut their food into small pieces before it is cooked, disguising the nonkosher foods. This last aspect seems silly, but it is a serious point. My late cousin Daniel, who kept kosher, along with many other otherwise observant people I have known, happily ate roast pork fried rice and egg foo yung. ‘What I can’t see won’t hurt me,’ was Danny’s attitude.”
But proceed with caution. The Torah calls Jews a holy people and prescribes for them a holy diet. If they choose to abandon it, so be it. But you ever argue with a rabbi? I’m not meshuga. Take this boy to the Prime Grill for a kosher steak and tell him you love him.
Yes, this is a year so odd that odd is starting to look normal. But it is also a year that gives us two months of Mishenichnas Adar Marbim BeSimcha. Let us use that double dose of Simcha to enhance our limud hatorah and learn with diligence and joy and love, and this will bring the Geula to Klal Yisrael quickly and finally.