To understand the background for the Hatred that the Chafetz Chaim had for Russian Communist Leaders, certain historical facts should be recalled.
In Soviet Russia it was a crime often punished by long periods of prison and in frequent cases by death (through starvation or torture) to practice many elements of Judaism.
Even the study of the Hebrew Language was a crime and all the more so acts that were more blatantly religious, such as observing the Biblical Commandment (incumbent only upon Jews) of circumcision of 8 day old baby boys (or older boys who were not circumcised on the eighth day).(For Gentiles who happen to be reading this article see: Most of the Prohibitions of the Bible Do Not Apply to Gentiles)
Batya Berg a Jewish woman who lived in the Soviet Union pointed out that even men of Jewish origin were involved in enforcing the Communist Decrees (both official and unofficial) against Judaism.
For example, in the book Kol Bidmama Nishma (in Hebrew) she tells the account of the Jewish Grandmother that told her son that she would not recognize his boy as her grandson, nor touch him until the son would consent that the boy gets a circumcision.
The astounded son told her ”to do as you wish, but that you will bear responsibility for your actions and not me”.
Some time later, during a vacation the child was left with the grandmother and she swiftly found a Mohel to perform the circumcision.
When the father of the newly circumcised child returned , he was filled with fear that the act would be discovered at the next periodic medical checkup at the government health clinic for children and for the sake of appearance ”play-acted” cries of anger against his mother and reported her to the police.
She was later tried by a Soviet judge who strangely enough was of Jewish descent.
The Judge said ”How did you dare to inflict such an awful blemish such as this on the child” with a look of wrath on his face.
The old woman did not lose her wits and answered back, mockingly. Behold, you are also a Jew and certainly you also have this awful blemish.
”True”, he answered,” but that was before the revolution: Today under communist rule, this is a great crime to do such a thing to a baby”.
Especially in the early days of Communism it was not uncommon to find men of Jewish origin among the leading communist personalities. Indeed the father of Communism, Karl Marx, was of Jewish origin. (Under pressure from the Russian Czar to assimilate, Marx’s parents superficially took upon themselves Christianity. )
Another very famous Jewish Communist was Lev Bronstein, known more widely, as Leon Trotsky, Stalin’s rival in the leadership struggle for rule of the Soviet Union after Lenin.
It was told in the biography of Rabbi Elchanan Wasserman (in the English Artscroll edition, page 59) what the Chafetz Chaim (who usually has the final say on what is Jewish Law) did to the Communist, Trotsky.
That the Chafetz Chaim agreed to curse this wicked man with a curse , special for wicked Jews and within a short time thereafter, Trotsky fell from power (one should add that after a few years later , Stalin also murdered him). And see also the Be’ur Halacha, siman 329 the words beginning with Eleh L-fi ”that it is permissible to curse a wicked Jew”….for it is written ” and a leader of your nation do not curse” -when he does the action of your nation.
And also of the messiah, it is written, ”And he shall smite a land with the rod of his mouth and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked” (Yishayahu\Isaiah 11:4).
And even though, it is possible to curse without hating, based on the Be’ur Halacha to Siman 1 beginning with the words V’lo Yitbayesh we can conclude that definitely the Chafetz Chaim, for purely spiritual reasons, did hate Trotsky.
To spare the reader from having to seek out the source, I’ll quote the passage :
“But if he is standing in a place that has Apikorsim (heretics) that rise up against the Torah and wish to enact some regulations in the matters of the city, and by means of this they will bring the people to transgress the will of G-d; and he opened in peace, and his words were not obeyed. In such a situation the Beit Yosef did not speak of at all. And it is a mitzvah to hate them and quarrel with them and nullify their plotting with all that he has the ability to do. And King David, peace be unto him said, ” Do I not hate, Hashem, those that hate you and with those that rise up against you , I shall quarrel ! I hate them with an utmost hatred: I count them as my enemies”. (Psalms 139:21,22)
We clearly see from the above, that it is wrong to display groundless love to extremely wicked Jews, (in modern times, such as, Trotsky) .
Most important, everything has a season – there is a time for mercy and a time for such traits as cruelty, all in keeping with Hashem’s commands and definitions. Whoever emulates Hashem’s attributes properly brings kindness and goodness to the world. This is the point of the Mishna (Berachot 54A): ‘Love Hashem your L-rd with all your heart’ (Deut. 6:5): With your two impulses, good and evil.
From the holy lips of Rabbeinu Yona emerged the following Divine words:
We can say that the good impulse is for such traits as mercy and that the evil impulse was created for cruelty. When one shows the evildoers no pity and is cruel to them, he does a great mitzvah, serving G-d with his evil impulse.
How great Rabbeinu Yona’s words! How opposed to ideas of the sons of the alien culture of our times!
And even Rabbi Kook who was more tolerant to the wicked than the Chafetz Chaim, admits that there is a limit to love. As it is written in Igrote Haraaya vol. 1 page 161, ”All these practical activities, that the esteemed Torah scholar thinks of, will find their place and at times will be appropriate, to defend by force, against the rubbish of the worst elements of the ”Erev Rav” that have awakened in our days, the days of the footsteps of the messiah”.
The evidence that Rabbi Kook defined men similar to Trotsky, as Erev Rav, comes from the words of Rabbi Kook in Igrote Haraaya vol. 1, page 264,
And how good would it be if these people will substitute in place of the rubbish from the side of the Erev Rav that come from Russia
Similar sentiments of hatred are recorded in Orot Hakodesh vol. 3 page 334 by Rabbi Kook:
”One that lacks the feeling of hatred towards the wicked is in a situation where the bad qualities, actions, and the bad ideologies can be attached to oneself and damage oneself. And even though by means of the great sweetening power of kindness, the light goes and is shined also upon the wicked, nevertheless, it is fitting to grab hold of the familiar trait of militancy, that internally recognizes hatred for the extremely wicked individuals, who raise their hands against the Torah”.
What caused the loss of almost all Soviet Jews to Judaism?
In Rabbi Moses M. Yoshor’s biography of the Chafetz Chaim as translated into English by Artscroll Publications, Volume 2 chapter 67, page 679 we learn the following:
”According to Rav Elchanan Wasserman, the Chafetz Chaim used to say further, ”Jews [in the Soviet Union] made a mistake when the edicts of the yevsektsia began. They should have gone right then in battle against them, with dedication and self-sacrifice, ready to give their lives. Many would indeed have been killed, but Satan’s power would have been weakened. No one could be found, however, ready to sacrifice himself in battle; and so the yevsektsia grew stronger.”