Does anyone know of a reliable source for the story about how the Maskilim made a play to mock what a milchama would look like according to the torah/chazal, in which they depicted only the Chofetz Chaim and Rav Chaim Ozer left standing to go to war after all the ovrei aveira were sent home? It is said that when Rav Boruch Ber was told about this he responded that they failed to see the end of the story where the 2 tzadikkim were miraculously victorious because of their great merit.

  • Are you looking specifically for a written source? – user6591 Jan 22 '16 at 15:23
  • Preferably a written source that doesn't simply quote the story as the "well-known story" but actually has it from a reliable source. I'd also be interested in information about the name of the play or anything about it if that still exists. – Hillel Jan 24 '16 at 3:40

This is not really a good answer as this isn't an actual non "story" source (as requested by the question), but I'm putting this down as the text below seems to be shared in a number of places, mentions the Yiddish Theater as the source and the cast of characters is slightly different (VG+SA instead of CC+CO). If anyone comes up with a better source, I'll delete this.

The Yiddish Theater was not known for its championing of Torah values and so it was not surprising when two students came running to the Brisker Rav, breathless with indignation:

Does the Rav know about the new play the Yiddish theater has put on? The people associated with it should all be put in cherem (excommunication)! They've made a satire on the Torah!

First, one of the actors says "Who is the man who has built a new house and not inaugurated it? Let him go and return to his house lest he die in the war and another man will inaugurate it". So, ten people get up and walk off the stage.

Then he says "And who is the man who has planted a vineyard and not redeemed it? Let him go home lest he die and another man redeem it". So, another ten people get up and leave the stage.

Then he says "And who is the man who has betrothed a woman and not married her? Let him go home lest he die in the war and another man marry her". So, another twenty people get up and walk off the stage.

And then he says "Whoever is afraid, let him go home so he won't scare everyone else". So now everyone leaves the stage except two actors who play the Vilna Gaon and the Shaagas Aryeh.

The Vilna Gaon says to the Shaagas Aryeh "Kvod HaRav you take the first shot", and the Shaagas Aryeh replies "No, no, I insist after you".

As they argue about whos going to start the war, the curtain falls and the audience laughs and claps. Its terrible!

The Brisker Rav paused and then said: "Well, whats wrong with that?"

The jaws of the students dropped. They gazed at their Rav dumb-struck.

The Brisker Rav continued, "The only thing they forgot is the last scene."

"What last scene?"

"The last scene is where the Vilna Gaon, and the Shaagas Aryeh win the war. "

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