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December 3, 2016 / 3 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘LOVE’

The Love Of A Parent

Friday, October 28th, 2016

The great Rabban Gamliel had a daughter who was beautiful and fine. As she grew older, many eligible young men sought her hand in marriage. Finally, she chose a fine, scholarly young man to be her husband, and the marriage was celebrated with pomp and great happiness.

All the great rabbanim of the time came to perform the mitzvah of dancing and rejoicing with the bride and groom and each gave his sincerest blessing to the young couple.

When all had finished it was the turn of the father of the bride. Rabban Gamliel placed his hands on his daughter’s head and said, “My daughter, may it be the Will of the Almighty that you never return here again.”

The young woman was stunned at her father’s words and her heart was filled with bitterness at this apparent ill will. Nevertheless, she remained silent and nursed her feelings privately.


A Child Is Born

Time passed, and a baby was born to the young couple. Once again there was great rejoicing throughout the land.

As soon as Rabban Gamliel heard the news, he made his way to his daughter’s home.
When his daughter saw him, she cried out: “My father, I have a son. I pray that you give me your blessings.”

“I am happy to, my daughter,” said Rabban Gamliel. And once again he placed his hands over her head and said: “May the word ‘Woe’ always be heard from your mouth.”


The Daughter Weeps

When the daughter heard this, she could restrain herself no longer and burst into tears.

“What is wrong, my child?” asked Rabban Gamliel. “Why do you cry?”

“I cannot help myself,” replied the young woman. “At my wedding when I asked for a blessing you wished me ill when you said that you never wanted to see me again.

“Today, when my first child is born I once again ask you for a blessing and you curse me by saying that I should never have the satisfaction of not saying ‘Woe.’

“Why, my father, is it that whenever I seek blessing and comfort from you, you curse me and wish me nothing but ill will?’’

Rabban Gamliel Explains

When Rabban Gamliel heard his daughter’s words he quickly replied: “My daughter, you misunderstand me. Heaven forbid that I should ever wish you ill in any form! Listen carefully to my words and let me explain what I meant.

“When I said to you at the time of your marriage that I prayed that you would never return to my house again, it was a blessing that the Almighty lengthen the days of your husband and the peace and tranquility of your house so that, G-d forbid, neither death of your husband nor divorce would ever separate you and force you to return to my house.

“Furthermore, today when I came to your home in this happy hour of the birth of a son, I blessed you from the bottom of my heart when I said to you that the word ‘Woe’ should always be heard on your lips.

“Consider, my daughter. The word ‘Woe,’ which connotes a sigh, is usually uttered by a person in times of trouble and worry and tension. But my blessing to you was that your little child should grow and be well and healthy so that you may be permitted to share with him all the little problems that go with normal motherhood.

“I prayed that you might have him grow and be normal so that you might have the normal worries of a mother who sighs: ‘Woe, my child did not eat his meal; Woe, my son is late for school.”

When the daughter heard the words of her father she rejoiced and said: “Now I realize that the wisdom of my father is as the wisdom of an angel of the Lord.

“Further, you have now taught me not to be like other women who prefer to read into words curses when they could just as easily find blessings.”

Rabbi Sholom Klass

Conversations with Heroes – Why Does God Love this Machine? [audio]

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

Happy New Year!

With Rosh Hashanah behind us, and Yom Kippur ahead of us, we are making the most of these 10 Days of Awe. We’ll meet expert organizer and counselor Nahva Follman, who will help us succeed in sticking with our New Year’s resolutions, and give ourselves a fresh start in life. You can contact Nahva through her website: Jerusalemmanagement.webs.com

Next, Yiftach Paltrowitz, one of Israel’s most in-demand photographers of Jewish celebrations and life events, makes a return visit to the show to discuss the very special weekly task he volunteers to undertake: operating a Shabbat siren (pictured). Especially during these Days of Awe, when Jewish people everywhere are strengthening their observance of mitzvot (heavenly commandments) we’ll find out the role this siren plays in readying us for Shabbat, and how Yiftach manages to consistently sound this wake-up call in his neighborhood. You can contact Yiftach through his website: yiftachphotography.com

Frequent show contributor, Andrea Simantov has Redemption on the brain, and tells us why she doesn’t quake at the idea of the Day of Judgment. Listen and get psyched up for Yom Kippur! You can contact Andrea via email: andreasimantov@gmail.com

Israel News Talk Radio

The Limits Of Love

Thursday, September 15th, 2016

In a parsha laden with laws, one in particular is full of fascination:

If a man has two wives, one loved, the other unloved [senuah, literally “hated”], and both the loved and the unloved bear him sons but the firstborn is the son of the unloved wife, then when he wills his property to his sons, he must not give the rights of the firstborn to the son of the beloved wife in preference to his actual firstborn, the son of the unloved wife. He must recognize [the legal rights of] the firstborn of his unloved wife so as to give him a double share of all he has, for he is the first of his father’s strength. The birthright is legally his. (Deut. 21:15-17).

The law makes eminent sense. In biblical Israel the firstborn was entitled to a double share in his father’s inheritance. What the law tells us is that this is not at the father’s discretion. He cannot choose to transfer this privilege from one son to another, in particular he cannot do this by favoring the son of the wife he loves most if in fact the firstborn came from another wife.

The opening three laws – a captive woman taken in the course of war, the above law about the rights of the firstborn, and the “stubborn and rebellious son” – are all about dysfunctions within the family. The Sages (Sanhedrin 107a) said that they were given in this order to hint that someone who takes a captive woman will suffer from strife at home, and the result will be a delinquent son. In Judaism marriage is seen as the foundation of society. Disorder there leads to disorder elsewhere. So far, so clear.

What is extraordinary about it is that it seems to be in the sharpest possible conflict with a major narrative in the Torah, namely Jacob and his two wives, Leah and Rachel. Indeed the Torah, by its use of language, makes unmistakable verbal linkages between the two passages. One is the pair of opposites, ahuvah and senuah, “loved” and “unloved/hated.” This is precisely the way the Torah describes Rachel and Leah.

Recall the context. Fleeing from his home to his uncle Laban, Jacob fell in love at first sight with Rachel and worked seven years for her hand in marriage. On the night of the wedding, however, Laban substituted his elder daughter Leah. When Jacob complained, “Why have you deceived me?” Laban replied, with intentional irony, “It is not done in our place to give the younger before the elder” (Gen. 29:25-26) – a reference to Jacob buying Esau’s birthright and taking his blessing. Jacob then agreed to work another seven years for Rachel. The second wedding took place a mere week after the first. We then read:

And [Jacob] went in also to Rachel, and he loved also Rachel more than Leah … God saw that Leah was unloved [senuah] and He opened her womb, but Rachel remained barren. (Gen. 29:30-31).

Leah called her firstborn Reuben, but her hurt at being less loved remained, and we read this about the birth of her second son:

She became pregnant again and had a son. ‘God has heard that I was unloved [senuah],’ she said, ‘and He also gave me this son.’ She named the child Simeon. (Gen. 29:33).

The word senuah appears only six times in the Torah, twice in the passage above about Leah, four times in our parsha in connection with the law of the rights of the firstborn.

There is an even stronger connection. The unusual phrase “first of [his father’s] strength” appears only twice in the Torah, here (“for he is the first of his father’s strength”) and in relation to Reuben, Leah’s firstborn: “’Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might and the first of my strength, first in rank and first in power” (Gen. 49:3).

Because of these substantive and linguistic parallels, the attentive reader cannot but hear in the law in our parsha a retrospective commentary on Jacob’s conduct vis-à-vis his own sons. Yet that conduct seems to have been precisely the opposite of what is legislated here. Jacob did transfer the right of the firstborn from Reuben, his actual firstborn, son of the less-loved Leah, to Joseph, the firstborn of his beloved Rachel. This is what he told Joseph:

“Now, the two sons who were born to you in Egypt before I came here shall be considered as mine. Ephraim and Manasseh shall be just like Reuben and Simeon to me.” (Gen. 48:5).

Reuben should have received a double portion, but instead this went to Joseph. Jacob recognized each of Joseph’s two sons as entitled to a full portion in the inheritance. So Ephraim and Menasseh each became a tribe in its own right. In other words, we seem to have a clear contradiction between Deuteronomy and Genesis.

How are we to resolve this? It may be that, despite the rabbinic principle that the patriarchs observed the whole Torah before it was given, this is only an approximation. Not every law was precisely the same before and after the covenant at Sinai. For instance Ramban (See commentary to Gen. 38:8) notes that the story of Judah and Tamar seems to describe a slightly different form of levirate marriage from the one set out in Deuteronomy.

In any case, this is not the only apparent contradiction between Genesis and later law. There are others, not least the very fact that Jacob married two sisters, something categorically forbidden in Leviticus 18:18. Ramban’s solution (in Gen. 26:5) – an elegant one, flowing from his radical view about the connection between Jewish law and the land of Israel – is that the patriarchs observed the Torah only while they were living in Israel itself. Jacob married Leah and Rachel outside Israel, in the house of Lavan in Haran (situated in today’s Turkey).

Abarbanel gives a quite different explanation. The reason Jacob transferred the double portion from Reuben to Joseph was that God told him to do so. The law in Devarim is therefore stated to make clear that the case of Joseph was an exception, not a precedent.

Ovadia Sforno suggests that the Deuteronomy prohibition applies only when the transfer of the firstborn’s rights happens because of the father favors one wife over another. It does not apply when the firstborn has been guilty of a sin that would warrant forfeiting his legal privilege. That is what Jacob meant when, on his deathbed, he said to Reuben: “Unstable as water, you will no longer be first, for you went up onto your father’s bed, onto my couch and defiled it” (Gen. 49:4). This is stated explicitly in the book of Chronicles which says that “Reuben … was the firstborn, but when he defiled his father’s marriage bed, his rights as firstborn were given to the sons of Joseph son of Israel” (1 Chron.5:1).

It is not impossible, though, that there is a different kind of explanation altogether. What makes the Torah unique is that it is a book about both law (the primary meaning of “Torah”) and history. Elsewhere these are quite different genres. There is law, an answer to the question, “What may we or may not do?” And there is history, an answer to the question, “What happened?” There is no obvious relationship between these two at all.

Not so in Judaism. In many cases, especially in mishpat, civil law, there is a connection between law and history, between what happened and what we should or should not do. Much of biblical law, for example, emerges directly from the Israelites’ experience of slavery in Egypt, as if to say: This is what our ancestors suffered in Egypt, therefore do not do likewise. Don’t oppress your workers. Don’t turn an Israelite into a lifelong slave. Don’t leave your servants or employees without a weekly day of rest. And so on.

Not all biblical law is like this, but some is. It represents truth learned through experience, justice as it takes shape through the lessons of history. The Torah takes the past as a guide to the future: often positive but sometimes also negative. Genesis tells us, among other things, that Jacob’s favoritism toward Rachel over Leah, and Rachel’s firstborn Joseph over Leah’s firstborn, Reuben, was a cause of lingering strife within the family. It almost led the brothers to kill Joseph, and it did lead to their selling him as a slave. According to Ibn Ezra (to Num. 16:1), the resentment felt by the descendants of Reuben endured for several generations, and was the reason why Datan and Aviram, both Reubenites, became key figures in the Korach rebellion.

Jacob did what he did as an expression of love. His feeling for Rachel was overwhelming, as it was for Joseph, her elder son. Love is central to Judaism: not just love between husband and wife, parent and child, but also love for God, for neighbor and stranger. But love is not enough. There must also be justice and the impartial application of the law. People must feel that law is on the side of fairness. You cannot build a society on love alone. Love unites but it also divides. It leaves the less-loved feeling abandoned, neglected, disregarded, “hated.” It can leave in its wake strife, envy and a vortex of violence and revenge.

That is what the Torah is telling us when it uses verbal association to link the law in our parsha with the story of Jacob and his sons in Genesis. It is teaching us that law is not arbitrary. It is rooted in the experience of history. Law is itself a tikkun, a way of putting right what went wrong in the past. We must learn to love; but we must also know the limits of love, and the importance of justice-as-fairness in families as in society.

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

Soul Talk – Falling in Love, Staying in Love [audio]

Sunday, September 11th, 2016

As people, we change over the years. I am not the same person I was five or ten year ago. Hopefully I can say that and be happier with who I am today. What can one do when one feels that their spouse has changed over time in a way that negatively effects their marriage? When you hear yourself say “This is not the person I thought I married!”, how can you still make your marriage work and flourish?

It can be easy to fall in love, but staying in love takes work and commitment.

Join Rabbi David Aaron and Leora Mandel to get a better understanding of foundational aspects of a relationship that are the keys to make it last!

We welcome your thoughts and questions. Please e-mail us at soultalk@israelnewstalkradio.com

Soul Talk 11Sept2016 – PODCAST

Israel News Talk Radio

Parallel Lives: Three Weeks to Recreate a Bond of Love, Respect and Passion

Thursday, August 11th, 2016

A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person

– Mignon McLaughlin


We are decidedly troubling beings. We are at once noble and sanctified creatures, imbued with the glory and holiness of God while, at the same time, being vulnerable and petty creatures, mired in the sad and troubling realities of the physical world around us, realities that are often the result of our own selfish and foolish behavior.

No period of time drives our troubling nature home more forcefully than the Three Weeks. Beginning when, historically, the walls of Jerusalem were breached by the Romans and reaching their mournful, painful crescendo on Tisha B’Av, the date on which the weight, number and overwhelming calamities weighing on us find us grieving and fasting for forgiveness and relief, these three weeks are the darkest of our liturgical calendar.

Three weeks.

Three weeks when we feel most alone, most vulnerable, most distant from God and the safety of his glory and protection. Three weeks when all around us the world basks – or swelters – in the hot, summer sun – we are in our darkest period.

Summer is, for most people, a time of relaxation and fun. But for Jews, these three weeks mark an inauspicious time, a frightening time, a time when God seems withdrawn from us and our humiliations, our tragedies, our exiles and defeats loom large. During these three weeks, we feel God’s absence in a physical way. It bows our heads and tightens the muscles in our stomachs. We ache for Him to be more present. We ache for Him to return and infuse our lives with power and sanctity. We need Him close but He seems to be hiding His face. It is time of hester panim.

The Three Weeks are a hard time, a mournful time. But like any difficult time, it is also a time of opportunity; a time when we can take the difficult and learn from it, take the sadness and learn to appreciate joy, confront our fears and find courage, recognize hurt and discover new ways to heal it.

The truth is, during the Three Weeks God seems distant. But, He is never so far away that we cannot reconnect if we are determined to do so. God wants our bond to be strong, He wants us to reconnect.

Sometimes, the simple truth is as the poet has said, “absence makes the heart grow fonder” and we need to feel God turn away to know how desperately and passionate we want and need Him to be close.

* * *

In Rav Norman Lamm’s “The Veil of God”, he relates how tradition teaches that when the Romans breached the Holy Temple and entered the Holy of Holies, they came upon the two Cherubim, the “…statuettes resembling the faces of young , innocent children, and from between which the voice of God would issue forth. When the enemy beheld these Cherubim, the Talmud relates, they found that the two figurines were facing each other. Now this is most unexpected, because according to Jewish tradition, the Cherubim faced each other only when Israel was obedient to God (‘osin retzono shel Makom); when Jews did not perform the will of God, the Cherubim turned away from each other. The destruction of the Temple was certainly the result of Israel’s disobedience and rebellion. One would expect, therefore, that they turn their faces away from each other. Why, then, were they facing one another, the sign of mutual love between God and His people?”

His answer, shared by R. Pinhas of Koretz, teaches us something powerful about the nature of love and friendship. That is that just as it is most dark right before the dawn, the attachment between two people is always strongest just before they part.

Two people can have an enduring relationship, a warm relationship, a caring relationship for years and years, but let the end draw near and all the emotion, passion, hope and joy that defined that relationship at its onset returns – in abundance!

What does this have to do with the Three Weeks?

God appreciates that we daven every day; He loves that we find rest during the Sabbath and that we observe His commandments. But He wants more than that. He wants a rekindling of the passion that brings us close and lifts us. He wants us to engage in the passion that burns with holiness.

Relationships need constant words of love and appreciation to stay strong and develop. Our relationship with God is no different. During the Three Weeks, we feel the distance in our relationship with God. How do we close that distance? How do we return to the “fear and trembling” of Sinai?

* * *

The love between God and Israel follows the same pattern as genuine human love. Tisha B’av was the beginning of the hester panim, the parting of the lovers. God and Israel turned away from each other, and the great, exciting, and immensely complicated relationship between the two companions, begun in the days of Abraham, was coming to an end. But before this tragic and heartbreaking moment, there took place a last, long, lingering look, the fervent embrace of the two lovers as they were about to part. At the threshold of separation they both experienced a great outpouring of mutual love, an intense ahavah, as they suddenly realized the long absence from each other that lay ahead of them; in so brief a time they tried to crowd all the affection the opportunities for which they ignored in the past, and all the love which would remain unrequited in the course of the future absence. That is why the Cherubim were facing each other. Certainly the Israelites were rebellious and in contempt of the will of God. But they were facing each other; God and Israel looked towards each other longingly and in lingering affection before they were pulled apart. And from this high spiritual union of God and Israel was created the soul of the Messiah! Mashiach was conceived in intense and rapturous love!

* * *

We are, of course, merely human. How can we really renew bonds, genuine bonds between us and God? How could we do such a thing? Our bonds must constantly be renewed. Just as our human bonds – between friends, between parents and children, between husband and wife.

Throughout our poetic and religious literature, the relationship between Israel and God has been likened to that between bride and groom, husband and wife. It is a deep and true image. And, as we learn during the Three Weeks, sometimes in our most important relationships, distance creeps in, complacency takes over, the ongoing day by day weight of life files away the passion and joy.

How do we renew that relationship?

Husbands and wives have done a great many things to renew “the spark” of their initial love. Some things intuitively make sense – long walks, scheduling a “date night”, going on vacation – others are a bit more of a stretch – roller coasters and bungee jumping. At base, every relationship requires communication to grow, to renew, and to stay strong.

Some couples find praying together is a powerful bond. Others, walks in nature. A couple I know very well use a technique I find powerful and moving, they recite the entire book of Tehilim every week, each reciting half the book. One week, the husband recites all the even numbered chapters and the wife the odd numbered; the following week, the reverse. In this way, they communicate their deep love for one another and maintain the spiritual component of their relationship.

“It is a very boding intimate daily connection in a spiritually holy way. We feel close through it; feel like we are doing something together for ourselves and for our family.”

I wondered, How is that bonding with each other?

“It is something that we are doing together. So we are together even when we are not together. It connects us on a different, holy level.”

I grant you, it’s not bungee jumping but this couple has been doing this for four years and they seem closer, kinder, more loving and more deeply committed than ever.

* * *

Yes, there is distance during the Three Weeks. But, just as it is true that devoted friends never forget each other – even if anger and offense have caused distance. It is never the case of “out of sight, out of mind.” A father may be so angry with his son that they don’t speak but his heart aches waiting for his son to call, to write, to make some gesture towards reconciliation. No matter how long the marriage and how “set in their ways” husband and wife become, some of the initial spark will always remain.

All these are instances of separation tense with love striving for reunion.

Such indeed is the hester panim that separates us from our Father in Heaven. We are exiled from Him – but not alienated. We are so far yet so close. God’s face is hidden but His heart is awake. Of course the divine love for Israel has not expired. It is that and that alone that accounts for our continued existence to this day. Certainly “with a great love hast Thou loved us” – for though we are banished, we need but call to Him and He will answer . Like a wise parent, the Almighty may punish, even expel, but never ceases to love His child!

Rabbi Eliyahu Safran

VIDEO: Ben Ehrenreich Shares his Love for the Sbarro Massacre Mastermind’s Family

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

{Originally posted to the author’s website, Elder of Ziyon}

This Tuesday will be the 15th anniversary of the infamous Sbarro pizza shop bombing, masterminded by Ahlam Tamimi.

The attack, on August 9, 2001, killed 15 people and injured 130. Among the dead were a pregnant woman and seven children – some counted eight, including an 18 year-old who had just finished school; the injured also included one young mother who was left in a permanent vegetative state.

For the families of the victims, this year’s 15th anniversary of the attack may well be particularly grim, because of a fawning book that has been recently released by Ben Ehrenreich, lionizing the murderous Tamimi clan.

Who would have ever imagined that an American writer would come out with a book that presents the family of Ahlam Tamimi – the Sbarro massacre mastermind – as simply wonderful people? This despite the fact that the Tamimis not only continue to justify the Sbarro attack, but are openly cheering pretty much every terror attack that has been perpetrated over the past year. And who would have ever imagined that prestigious publications like the New York Times and The Economist would praise this hagiography of the terror-supporting Jew-hating Tamimis to the high heavens? What is it about killing Jews that is so romantic that the NYT would gush about Ehrenreich’s “Love Letter to Palestine” and The Economist would fawn about all “the hope, and the love” that infuses Ehrenreich’s depiction of the Tamimis?

For a glimpse of the intense Jew-hatred and the ardent support for terror that animates Ben Ehrenreich’s protagonists, watch the video below that will introduce you to the four people Ehrenreich lists first in the Acknowledgements for his book: Bassem and Nariman Tamimi, and Bilal and Manal Tamimi.

The video was conceived, researched and written by Petra Marquardt-Bigman. Narrated and directed by Elder of Ziyon.

Elder of Ziyon

Tefillah: A Meeting With Hashem – Love Our Nation

Friday, August 5th, 2016

A friend of mine related that his brother was on a business trip to Istanbul and went to pray in a local shul. He was quite surprised when one of the congregants waved to him. “I don’t know this man,” he thought. “He must be a really friendly person!” But then he noticed the man was waving to everyone in shul. And he was not the only one – every single person in shul was doing the same thing! After davening, they told him that this custom was based on the words of the Arizal, cited by the Magen Avraham (O.C., beginning of siman 46). He writes: “Before the morning tefillah one should accept upon himself the mitzvah of v’ahavtah le’reiacha kamocha – you shall love your fellow as yourself.” In order to fulfill this mitzvah properly, the custom of this congregation is to wave to each and every fellow Jew in shul.

But what is the Arizal’s reason – why is it so important to fulfill this mitzvah specifically before we start praying?


Plural Power

One who examines Shemoneh Esrei will notice something interesting: we speak in the plural form. For example, we ask Hashem to give us rain, to heal us, to forgive us, etc. That is, I come before Hashem as a representative of our nation – not for myself. Once a person has asked for everyone, he may add personal supplications, as long as he fulfills certain conditions (see Shulchan Aruch, O.C. siman 119). One example being at the end of Shemoneh Esrei when we say “Elokai, netzor leshoni mei’ra – My G-d, guard my tongue from evil… etc.” In general, though we use the plural form. In fact, the Gra in Sh’nos Eliyahu (Brachos 5:1) says that not only must we verbally ask in the plural form, we are not even allowed to think only about ourselves when we pray! But why not?

The Gemara (Brachos 30a) states that when a person prays he should always include himself as part of the community. Rashi explains that this will cause his prayer to be accepted. On a simple level, we can explain that one who includes himself with the tzibur will be answered in their merit, because the community usually has more merit than the individual.

However, I believe there is an even deeper reason why including ourselves with the tzibur helps our tefillos be accepted by Hashem. The whole concept of approaching Hashem in prayer is absolutely mind-boggling. How do we have the audacity to approach the Master of the Universe, who is holier and greater than anything we can possibly imagine, and expect that He is interested in hearing us? Only because Hashem tells us so in the Torah. “For who is a great nation that has G-d close to them like Hashem our G-d, whenever we call out to Him?” (Devorim 4:7). Hashem gave our nation the special privilege of turning to Him in prayer, and He has promised to listen to our prayers. And why did we merit this special closeness? Simply because He loves us, as stated throughout Tanach. The prophet Yirmiyahu (31:3) says in the name of Hashem: “I have loved you with an eternal love.” And Yeshaya (54:10) says even more: “For the mountains will depart and the hills will move, but My loving-kindness shall not depart from you, nor will My covenant of peace move away.”

Hashem’s love for our nation is so great that even though we sinned and were sent into exile, He still loves us. Hashem did not choose us because of our good deeds; rather, He has an unconditional love for us (Maharal, Netzach Yisroel, chapter 11). Therefore, even if we sin, He will not forsake us. On the contrary, He will make sure that we repent and perfect our ways, so that we will be worthy of Him dwelling amongst us.

Rabbi Eliezer M. Niehaus

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/tefillah-a-meeting-with-hashem-love-our-nation/2016/08/05/

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