Victory over Amalek - tracking down Rudolf Hoess

Two children were born within 3 years of each other: Kalman Abrahams in England, and Rudolf Höess, the Amalekite, in Germany.

Rivka Abrahams ,

Rivka Abrahams
Rivka Abrahams
R. Abrahams

In the beginning, Hashem created the heavens and the earth.

He created man, and breathed into him life which was His spirit of G-dliness.

All life therefore, is G-dly, for the L-rd animated it with Himself, with His spirit. And since the L-rd is all good, the essence of all creation is good.

But man is the only creation with freedom of choice. He may choose good, or he may choose evil, and The Creator, like a Great Celestial Conductor, watches His precious creations turning away from His will.

Immediately upon leaving Egyptian bondage, the Israelites were faced with two existential challenges: the Egyptian army, which the L-rd dispatched by drowning them in the Red Sea; and the Amalakite army that was vanquished by the Israelites under the leadership of Joshua.

Nationally, we have faced numerous detractors in our near 4000 year history.

So what was the difference with the Amalakies? Why were we told "timche et zecher Amalek", (wipe out the memory of Amalek), and the same is not said for the Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Romans or indeed the Germans?

That is because, the Amalakites were the first. They were the first external nation following the Exodus to attack us.

The Midrashic analogy is to a very hot bath that everyone is afraid to enter.

Comes the first wise guy, and jumps in; he is surely burned; but he survives, showing the world that this hot bath, (Israel), is not so impregnable, not so untouchable. And thus the floodgates were opened for the rest of the world, to begin millenia of persecution.

"Timche et zecher Amalek"; wipe out the memory of these people, the Amalakites, for they attacked us physically; attacking from the rear where we were poorly defended; and spiritually, because they introduced doubt as to the omniscience of the L-rd.

It is a mitzvah "D'Oryta", (from the Torah), to literally obliterate this Amalekite nation from the face of the earth. Today, of course, in the absence of a Beit HaMikdash, (Holy Temple), this law is relegated to theory, and of course, most ancient peoples, (Jews excepted), have assimilated into oblivion.

So what is left, if the people themselves are indistinguishable?

What is left is an "Amalekism". Any nation that portrays a deep visceral, almost otherworldly hatred of the Jews, is said to be descendants of the Amalakites.

We soon will be celebrating the holiday of Purim.

The main antagonist in the Purim story, Haman, was a pure Amalakite, a direct descendant of Agag, the Amalakite king.

It was his wish to exterminate the Jews that dwelled in the Persian Empire, and it is the thwarting of this plan that resulted in the holiday of Purim.

It is usually not noted or appreciated that had this plan succeeded, Heaven forbid, the Jews would indeed have been rendered extinct; for ALL of the Jews were living in the Persian Empire, which was most of the known world.

All seemed lost, but due to the courage of the sage Mordechai, and beautiful and brave Queen Esther, everything was turned around, "v'nahafoch hu", Haman was hanged, the Jews were allowed to defend themselves, what was nearly an unspeakable tragedy, became a day of great rejoicing.

They tried to kill us.

We won.

Let's eat.

Not so fast...

In every generation, there arise detractors that wish to harm, damage and destroy the Jewish people.

At the turn of the 20th Century, two babies were born.

We all start life as babies that grow into children.

Two of these children were born within 3 years of each other.

Pure, sweet, innocent children.

One of them, Kalman Lieb Abrahams, born in Liverpool, England, and the other, Rudolf Höess, born in Baden Baden, Germany.

These two would meet 43 years later, their fates being inexorably intertwined; Höess the notorious Nazi commandant of Auschwitz, and Abrahams, the religious Jew who caught him.

Because of the fluent German he had learned in school, Abrahams was stationed in Germany attached to the British Army Intelligence Corps.

Kalman Leib Abrahams
Rivka Abrahams

His unit had tracked down Hedwig Höess, the wife of the terrible Rudolf Höess, and thoroughly interrogated her.

She denied knowing the whereabouts of her Nazi husband, after extensive interrogation; and the group believed her.

Sgt Abrahams, however, was not convinced. He interrogated her further, and finally, she finally broke under pressure and admitted that her husband was holed up in a farm house nearby, confirming Kalman Leib's suspicion, that she was in fact hiding her husband.

Kalman Leib followed his intuition exactly, and found Höess, who, at first insisted that he was a simple gardener, named Franz Lang, but finally admitted his identity, and Kalman Leib Abrahams, זצ"ל, arrested him.

Rudolph Hoess
Rivka Abrahams

The Nazi demon was put on trial, and was hanged just metres away from the very spot where over 2½million Jews, and various others the Germans deemed undesirable, met their deaths.

Kalman Leib was very proud to be the one to apprehend such a high ranking Nazi.

He must have thought:

As the Prophet Samuel said to Agag before executing him, Just as you have created widows and orphans, I will now make your mother grieve for YOU.

Kalman Leib wrote home to his wife Batya that be had just apprehended the "most notorious criminal on the face of the earth".

Abrahams did it for the glory of Hashem, the pride of the Jewish people, but most of all because we're commanded to;

Timche et Zecher Amalek.

Rivka Abrahams was raised in an observant home in Birmingham, England. The heroic grandfather she honors in her article passed away when she was 3. She studied in Crown Heights, New York, made aliya at age 18 and is the widowed mother of seven children. In her words: Kalman Leib Abrahams, my paternal grandfather passed away in 1980, when I was only 3 years old, but I remember him as a gentle, kind man who loved his family, the Jewish People and Hashem. May his memory be a blessing, and may his courage be an inspiration



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