[One historic Purim Katan, hundreds of chassidim crowded into the modest wooden Lubavitcher shul that used to stand in the grounds of the imposing synagogue that still dominates Archipova Street in Moscow. Every single man clearly knew that the presence there of the Rebbe Rayatz and his own presence there endangered the lives of them all. (And in fact, exactly four months later, on 15 Sivan, the Rebbe himself together with many of those present was arrested.) For the year was 1927, and they all knew that planted amongst them were secret agents of the dreaded NKVD. To make things worse, the fearlessly “counter-revolutionary” discourse they were about to hear urged them to defy the Haman of their own days, and to prepare themselves to sacrifice their lives, quite literally, in order to keep the underground Torah classes open for the last hope of Israel — their own little children.

Some nine years later, in a letter written in Otvotzk, dated 1 Kislev 5697 [1936] and addressed to his Secretary for Educational Affairs, Rabbi H.M.A. Hodakov ע"ה, the Rebbe Rayatz himself described the events of that day:1

“...On Purim Katan, 5687 [1927], which fell on a Wednesday, I was in Moscow. The chassidim and the temimim (May they live and be well!) organized a farbrengen to be held in the Lubavitcher shul. That same morning I was informed that investigations were being made concerning me at my lodgings in the Sibirski Hotel. A secret agent was already counting my steps. Early in the evening I received news from Leningrad that (May we never know of such news!) a person close to me2 had been arrested. In fact, [among the chassidim,] fears were being expressed concerning me. Nevertheless, I did not want to cancel the farbrengen.

“The farbrengen was held at the appointed hour. I delivered the maamar which begins with the words, VeKibeil HaYehudim Eis Asher Heicheilu. The concept of self-sacrifice for the sake of the Torah and its mitzvos is mentioned there several times. I placed particular emphasis on those passages, ignoring the fact that the very walls had ears.... Later, in the course of the farbrengen, I repeated those words with an emphasis intended to arouse the hearts [of my listeners to action], in keeping with the needs of those days....”]