A very kind reader Upon reading about RAYS reading the תנאים at the Sadigerrer תנאים מאהל, took the time to send me links to the sefer זכרון יעקב by Reb Yaakov HaLevi Lipschutz which discuss a connection that Beis Brisk had to Rizhin, the fore bearer to Sadiger, back in the 19th century. Knowing Reb AvromYeshua and his knowledge of Brisker history I'm sure he knows this chapter of the family history as well, but I couldn't say if there was some kind of ongoing connection בין בריסק לסאדיגורא today as well. Although the fact that the Shapiras are somewhat affluent would help... A brief synopsis: The year 1826 was when the Czar Nikolai I decided to take Jews for military service. It seems from Rabbi Lipschutz that these rumors already started soon after the defeat of Napoleon over a decade before, but 1826 was when it was confirmed that the idea was being seriously considered in the halls of power in the Russian capital. What seems normal now - says RYL - was considered unjust in '26 and an effort was made to try and stop it. By "stop it" we mean that instead of paying with bodies the Jews would pay their share with a heavy tax, since long-term conscription into a Christian army was a death sentence to the Jewish future - which is why the Czar wanted to do it in the first place. But in the end the idea of a tax did not work and army service became mandatory, even for Jews.
As far as what hishtadlus was done; Being that Reb Yitzchok Zev was Reb Chaim Volozhiner's eynikel he was asked to travel to Rizhin to see Reb Yisroel, זצ"ל, who "had connections." He had gevirim who knew and had influence with the Russian ministers and could do something about the decree. RYZS told Rabbi Lipschutz about his visit to the Rizhiner and how he would take "kvitlach" with pidyonos in his prave shtieb. But the tzaddik could do nothing for him. "I have done all that I can," were his words, "I can do no more. I have already sent two letters to the מומע לאה, what more can I do?" Alas, the gates of heaven were closed and the decree would be carried out. Who? Mume Leah? Who was this, and how would she help? We've heard of the Mume Sarah, but who was the Mume Leah? Lipschutz tells us that the Mume Leah was the Jewish wife of the Russian Admiral of the Black Sea fleet of the Imperial Navy who lived in Nikolayev, Ukraine - [ birthplace of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, זצוקללה"ה נבג"מ זי"ע.] She was a very frume Yiddene, despite being married to a Russian admiral and was very active in Jewish causes, helping her brethren with parnosoh, as well as klal issues. She was a big chasidis'te of the Rizhiner, and would often send kvitlech to him. The greatest hishtadlus he could do was to send her two letters בכתב יד קדשו - you hear that David Assaf? - and since there was nothing she could do then the decree was sealed, אין להשיב.
[ It seems like this was done several years before 1826, since Reb Chaim Volozhiner, RYZS's zeide, was the one who sent RYZS, and he passed away in 5581/1821, which would make the Rizhiner 25 years old at most!]
Brisk-Ruzhin From Y Lipschutz