The story is told of a gathering of the Rabbonim in Petersburg during the times of the Rebbe Rashab. The meeting was in response to the government’s demand that all the Jewish religious teachers and rabbis obtain certification and degrees in secular studies. Naturally, all the Rabbonim opposed this decree. However, the officials threatened that if they would not comply, there would be pogroms, G‑d forbid.

The Rebbe Rashab spoke harshly against the decree and urged the Jews to resist it. At the end of his speech he fainted. Due to the sharpness of his words against the government’s edict and also because of his protest concerning the possible pogroms, he was arrested.

When the Rebbe was later freed from prison, one of the Rabbonim entered the Rebbe’s office and saw him crying. He said to the Rebbe, “Lubavitcher Rebbe, why are you crying? We did all we could!” The Rebbe responded, “But we were not successful in achieving our goal!!”

Likkutei Sichos, vol. 23, p. 161