1. The Tzemach Tzedek once told a coastal unit of Jewish soldiers who had been conscripted to the Russian army:1 “If a command is issued to apostatize (G‑d forbid), one is obligated to undergo actual self-sacrifice. Even if the czar himself gives the command, one must have actual mesirus nesfesh and disobey him.”

It so happened that five years later, the czar visited that unit, which was called upon to demonstrate its strength and its acrobatic skills. Duly impressed, the czar asked their officer, “Who are these soldiers?”

He answered: “Yankel, Berl,” and so on…

A murderous thought fell into his mind and he commanded: “Make them all deny their faith!”

To this they answered: “Mighty king! Five years ago the Lubavitcher Rebbe told us that even if the czar himself forces us to apostatize, we must give our lives and disobey him.” With that they leaped into the sea and drowned.

There are two wondrous sides to this episode: firstly, the fact that after five years they remembered the words of the Tzemach Tzedek, and secondly, the fact that he empowered them to give up their lives.

2. When the Tzemach Tzedek addressed them, he told them to convey his message to all the Jewish soldiers they encountered. For saying this he was arrested and kept under surveillance for six months.

3. In the year 5685 (1925) I farbrenged with a group of soldiers in Russia. They were chassidim who worked for the dissemination of Torah throughout the country. It was said at the time that a chassid is someone who speaks little, thinks more, and does even more.