Russia for Jews – Not Exactly Heaven

Brutality towards Jews exists on all sides. A story about the Steipler Rebbe z”l that occurred during the Bolshevik Revolution.

“The forced labor in Siberia was backbreaking. In addition to the bitter cold and blinding snow, the actual labor required extreme exertion.

“The Steipler Gaon had been inducted into the army against his will, and yet, regardless of the terrible conditions and the impossible work, he knew in his heart that only one task mattered— serving Hashem. One of the first obstacles the Steipler had to overcome was the army system itself.

“The army dictated that everyone must work seven days a week. To the Steipler, that was absolutely unacceptable. He approached the officer in charge, an evil antiSemite, and asked that he be granted permission to not work on Shabbos.

“The official paused for a moment and answered that he would grant the request on one condition, that the Steipler would first have to prove himself to be a valiant warrior. The Steipler would have to ‘run the gauntlet’. The officer quickly ordered 100 soldiers to form two facing rows, and arm themselves with sticks.

“The Steipler watched the soldiers move into formation and heard these words of the evil officer, ‘Kanievsky, here is the deal. If you are able to make it through these lines and survive the blows from my officers, then you may rest on your Shabbos. However, if you don’t…’ His voice trailed off, and he laughed. Clearly, he was enjoying his little game. Usually, the victim did not reach the end of the gauntlet alive, from the blows, kicks, and punches of the vicious soldiers.

“The Steipler did not flinch. Instead, he whispered a heartfelt Tefilah to Hashem to help him survive this difficult test. He knew that he could give up and the game would be over. But if he admitted defeat, then his attempt to be released from working on Shabbos would be over as well.

“The guards motioned to their commanding officer that they were ready, and the officer and his comrades stood back to watch the fun.

“The Steipler approached the path and murmured one last plea to Hashem. He held his hand over his head and ran between the rows of guards. With all their might they began to pummel him and beat him incessantly.

“The pain was unbearable, but the Steipler persisted and kept trudging forward. Blood trickled into his eyes but he continued to move forward. Step by step he inched ahead until finally, he reached the end of the treacherous path. He collapsed at the finish line.

“With Hashem’s compassion, the Steipler came out of the ordeal alive….As he lay there, a smile formed on his lips. He had won. He was in incredible pain, but the Shabbos was still holy, and he would be able to observe it!”

Reprinted from the Parshas Shlach 5781 email of Rabbi Yehuda Winzelberg’s Torah U’Tefilah, shared by Ezra Friedlander (Facebook)

One should not mistake objectivity for bias. In the case of “Ukraine” (puppet Ukraine) propaganda, this is incredibly important to remember.

By Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal (Dossy). All opinions are the author’s own. Public domain.