My mother once told me a story about the Ponovezher Rov. (The Rov was a dear friend of our family, and used to stay at our house when he was in Chicago. My mother and his daughter were close friends before the war; my mother remembers that when the German bombardment began, she met her friend on the bridge in Kovna, and she asked her, Esther, vu geist du? because she was running back into town. Esther responded "I'm going to my family." That was the last time my mother saw her. The Rov also learned with my mother's brother.) Either the Ponovezher himself told the story to my mother, or his son, Reb Avraham Kahaneman told her the story. Someone was talking to the Rov about Ben Gurion's virulent enmity toward religion and the policies and laws he enacted against the Torah community. This is certainly true- Ben Gurion did not love Orthodox Judaism. Reb Chaim Ozer writes in his letters that Ben Gurion (at that time David Gruen) had organized a demonstration in Warsaw, and the posters advertising the demonstration proclaimed that it would be מכת מוות לאורטודוקסיה, the "death blow to Orthodoxy." A friend of organized religion he was not. In any case, this person used the expression "ימח שמו" "may his name be erased," against Ben Gurion. The Ponovezher Rov immediately and vehemently responded, "One may never say such a thing on a Jew, no matter what he is! (The Torah says that the widow of a married man that dies childless becomes a Yevama, so that her husband's brother might marry her and carry forward the name of the man that died.) Are you paskening that Ben Gurion would not have a din Yibum? The Torah says "lo yimacheh shemo," and that applies even to Ben Gurion!"
The problem is that there is an opinion among the Rishonim that a Mumar, one who has abandoned the Jewish religion, does not have a din Yibum. If such person dies childless, his wife cannot marry his brother in order to perpetuate his name. This is the opinion of the Mordechai in Yevamos. And if Ben Gurion's not a mumar, then I'm Rabbeinu Hakadosh. Now it's true that we don't pasken like the Mordchai (EH 157:5). But why did the Ponovezher react so strongly? Why can't we rely on the Mordchai at least to be mattir cursing that devil who gave the order to fire on the Altalena/kidnapper of innocent Teimani immigrants/Socialist/all around dvar hashem bazanik/meisis umadi'ach?
It so happens that there's a Chasam Sofer in the Teshuvos (Vol. 6 #56) that is relevant to this question.
The Gemara in Bava Basra 119b says that Moshe Rabbeinu was teaching the laws of Yibum, and the daughters of Tzelafchad came in with a question: אם כבן אנו חשובין תנה לנו נחלה כבן אם לאו תתיבם אמנו If we daughters are like בנים, sons, in the lexicon of the dinim of the Torah, then we ought to inherit his share of the Land of Israel. If we're not like בנים, then our mother ought to be a Yevama and marry our father's brother, because he died without בנים!
Someone asked the Chasam Sofer that if Tzelafchad was the Mekosheish Eitzim, then he publicly violated the Shabbos, and the rule is that a mechalel Shabbos in public is considered an absolute mumar. According to the Mordechai that a Mumar doesn't cause Yibum, their claim was flawed. Even if they, the daughters, are not like בנים, and so he is considered to have died without בנים, there would still be no din of yibum, because the father, being a mumar, was not entitled to yibum.
The inquirer suggested two answers: 1. Only a person who repeatedly does the sin is categorized as a "mumar." One time, although liable for punishment, does not make him a mumar. 2. Tzelafchad intended his act to be a test case that would demonstrate the seriousness of the violation of Shabbos, and so although he did violate Shabbos, he was motivated l'sheim Shamayim. These answers are obviously weak, and the Chasam Sofer did not like either one.
The Chasam Sofer answers the question with a chiddush. He says that the rule that "One who publicly violates Shabbos is an absolute Mumar for all halachos of the Torah," is limited: it does not apply to Yibum even according to the Mordchai. The Mordechai's rule that a mumar does not cause yibum only refers to a mumar who abandons Judaism, a mumar who becomes a meshumad and joins another religion.
So the mussar haskeil of this story is that a Jew might be a rasha, he might be a mena'eif, he might be a mumar le'chol hatorah kulla, or a murderer. But if he is a Jew by any definition, if he hasn't rejected and abandoned his tie to Klal Yisrael, you can never say on such a person Yimach Shemo. Even on the worst Jews, the Ribono shel Olam says veLo yimacheh shmo.
The internet is so marvelous.... I searched for the word yimacheh, because I remembered a phrase in Chazal that goes something like ימחה וימחה
and I came across an explanation in a forum on ivelt.com for why frummeh protesters are allowed to call the police Nazis. Can you believe they have an actual discussion about this? Morons. Anyway, one of the commenters there wrote the following. I don't know if it's assur to read on Tisha Ba'av because it makes you laugh, or muttar because it makes you cry.
"This is the place to remark about saying yimach shmam, it is known that the Popper Rov Z'L said by the demonstrations about the excavation of bodies that we are obligated to say yimach shemam ve'zichram.
That has to be one of the great treasures of the internet:
נהוג בכל העולם בכל הדורות לומר ימ"ש
Now is that not a minhag to be proud of? Fine, fine people.