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April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Rachel’

Aliyah and the Gifted Child

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

As an education writer for the nonprofit organization, Kars4Kids, and as someone who made Aliyah from Pittsburgh 34 years ago, I decided to write about the challenges of Aliyah from western countries with school age children. See the previous piece in this series, Aliyah and the Special Needs Educator. Today I interview Rachel Moore of Neve Daniel.

Varda: Tell me about yourself, Rachel.

Rachel Moore

Rachel Moore

Rachel: I am 41 years old, expecting my 8th child. I have been working in PR and communications for the past 17 years in government and the non-profit world. I blog, sing, and study Torah whenever I can grab an opportunity.

Varda: When did you make Aliyah? How many children did you bring with you and what were their ages?

Rachel: I made Aliyah in 1995 at 22. However, I left again in 2000 and spent 12 years back in the U.S. for personal reasons, and only moved back in July of 2012.

My second time settling here was truly Aliyah for my children, who at the time were 12, 11, 11, 9, 7 and 4.

My eldest is my stepson, 19, who is a sophomore at Rutgers University in the U.S. He did not move here with us. My other 6 children are now 13, 12 year-old twins, 10, 8 and 5, and I am due with another one – today, actually[Rachel had her baby that evening, a little boy! V.E.].

Varda: Tell me about your children. What are their difficulties?

Rachel: We have at least two children who have been classified as “gifted” outside of Israel, and meeting their needs is a challenge, and also requires learning the system. In addition, I have one daughter who I suspect as having ADHD, but she hasn’t been classified – yet.

Varda: Where do they go to school?

The newest addition to the Moore family.

The newest addition to the Moore family.

Rachel: My 13 year-old daughter attends Orot Etzion girls’ school. My 12 year-old twin boys attend Horev High School (7th grade), my 10 year-old son attends Carmei Yehuda, Mamad Hativa Bogeret boys’ school in Alon Shvut, my 8 year-old daughter attends Shirat Chanan, Mamad Hativa Tzeira in Alon Shvut, and my 5 year-old attends the Mechina of Orot Etzion in Neve Daniel.

Varda: Do your children receive additional help outside of school?

Rachel: My daughter with [suspected] ADHD sees a therapist (in English) outside of school that specializes in children with this disability. My 10 year-old son is now enrolled in a gifted pull-out program in Efrat once a week called Afikim [Eligibility is determined by both written and oral tests and only 1.5% of students are accepted], and is in mitzuyanut [gifted class]within school. We had to get him special permission to take the test to qualify for Afikim at the beginning of 5th grade, because the test is usually given in 2nd grade.

We believe that our 2nd grader would have qualified [as gifted] the year we moved here, but we didn’t know she had the option to take the test in English or with translation help. No one had explained this to us, so she took it with the rest of the class. We may still pursue an appeal so that she can retake the test, but it will probably be an uphill battle.

Varda: What out-of-pocket expenses do you have in educating your children and what is covered by the state?

David Petraeus and the Biblical Lessons of Why Men Want Two Women

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

The David Petraeus scandal, where a national hero betrays a solid, devoted, soul mate of a wife to be with a young hot thing who gets his blood pumping seems as old as time itself. In earlier times a general or king would usually have two women to being with to  fulfill two very different needs. The pedigreed wife for children and to rule as a consort – and recall that Petraeus married the daughter of the Superintendent of West Point – and a mistress for passion and excitement. But Petraeus had to resign because our society does not tolerate unfaithfulness. It expects men who are accomplished in their public life to be equally accomplished in marriage by finding find both dimensions in one woman, namely their wives.

The Biblical story of Jacob and his two wives, Rachel and Leah (which we read in last week’s portion) provides insight into what men search for and the tragedy of not  orchestrating disparate needs into one indivisible woman.

When Jacob first meets Rachel, he seeks to impress her by moving a giant stone, then kisses her, and breaks into tears. He then offers Laban, her father, seven years of work in return for Rachel’s hand in marriage. The years pass by so quickly that ‘they appeared in his eyes as if they were just days.’

Jacob’s love for Rachel is one of deep passion and yearning. It is love as covetousness, lust, and desire. It is the fieriest kind of romantic love. It is also the most tragic. Romantic, passionate, lustful love that is balanced by partnership and intimacy nearly always ends badly. Either because the fires die down, or because the fire burns so brightly that it consumes both participants. Fiery, lustful love rarely ends up with a happily ever after. Jacob feels in his bones that his passion for Rachel must end disastrously. Thus, he is drawn to kiss her, but he immediately weeps. He recognizes that in this imperfect world, perfect love is impossible to attain. He wants Rachel to be his soul mate, but he intuits that he will never fully possess her is destined to lose her.

By contrast, he experiences none of the same passion for Leah. When he is fooled into marrying her, he accepts Leah as a partner and eventually the mother of his children. But his yearning is for Rachel. Leah feels hated and names the first of her three children after her experiences of rejection from Jacob. Reuben is for the God ‘who saw my affliction and granted me a son.’ Simeon is for the God ‘who saw that I am hated.’ Levi is the son whose birth ‘will bring my husband closer to me.’ Only with the fourth son, Judah, which means ‘praise to God,’ do we begin to see a name that gives the child an intrinsic identity rather than one that relates instead to the relationship of his father to his mother.

Leah longs for Jacob the way that Jacob longs for Rachel. But for Jacob, Leah represents a maternal, practical partner with whom he shares a life but has no passionate connection. It reflects, arguably, the way Petraeus viewed his own loyal wife. They have intimacy but no intensity. They have a family but no fervor or fire. He loves her but does not long for her. He does not want bad things to happen to her. He wishes to protect her but she is not the delight of his soul.

Yet Jacobs knows in his heart that Leah, rather than Rachel, is destined to be his soul mate. (No doubt Petraeus knew in his heart as well he was always destined to return to his wife, if she would accept him back). She is destined to bear most of his children, share his life, and share eternity with him by being buried at his side. Leah represents stability and order. She will be Jacob’s anchor. She is his permanence. The woman who tethers him to family. Yet he will never make peace with love that is only functional and not romantic, stable but not passionate.

Rachel is playful, girlish, and evinces, at times, immaturity that is often characteristic of   women whom men desire mightily. She can also be callous about Jacob’s love for her, so confident is she in the  of his desire. When Reuben brings flowers for his mother Leah, Rachel strikes a deal with Leah to exchange the flowers for a conjugal night with Jacob. What Leah longs for, Rachel treats as mere currency. Unlike Jacob who understands intuitively the tragic nature of passionate, romantic love, Rachel thinks they have endless time to be together. One night will make no difference. But Jacob knows the clock is ticking.

Women like Leah ultimately both triumph and suffer. They triumph because in their stability they end up gaining the commitment of men who build families and lives with them. But they suffer because they never feel the passionate desire of their husbands. They never really feel wanted. They never truly feel special. And a woman wants to be lusted after even more than she wants to be loved.

But it is the amalgamation of both types of love that is meant to characterize the successful marriage. Not a man in a relationship with two women, but a man and woman whose marriage incorporates both dimensions. Husbands and wives are meant to have passion and practicality, fire and firmness, lust and love, desire and durability. Rachel and Leah are meant to be one.

The Jewish laws that will follow with the giving of the Torah at Sinai will prescribe half of the month devoted to passion and sexual fire, and half of the month devoted to soulfulness and intimacy. The orchestration of the two is what makes a marriage whole. We are meant to be lovers and best friends, paramours and soul mates, people who ache for each other but settle down with one another to create a life of stability and permanence. Our wives should be our mistresses and our companions, our excitement and our anchor. We never wish to lose our lust, but we also need to accompany lust with love.

It was Jacob’s inability to value both dimensions that lead to many problems in the life of his own family. Jacob seems scarred from his childhood. His father favored Esau, so from his earliest age he tasted rejection. Later, he will repeat many of these mistakes in favoring Joseph, creating even more dysfunction and sibling rivalry among his own children than he experienced with Esau. Likewise, he favors one wife and one type of love. He struggles to appreciate the stability of Leah and gravitates exclusively toward the drama of Rachel. With Rachel he fights and argues. She accuses Jacob of being responsible for her not falling pregnant. He fires back that he is not God and is not responsible for her infertility. But dramatic relationships are addictive and Rachel is the drug of choice. But in favoring Rachel so exclusively Jacob risks becomes emotionally monolithic, never quite mastering the art of relationships. He is, interestingly, far better at adversarial relationships than intimate ones. He outmaneuvers the wily Esau to take his blessing as well as his immoral and cunning father-in-law Laban. He wrestles with an angel and defeats him. He has learned from an early age to survive on his wits.

Like many a man who has experienced insufficient love in his childhood, Jacob finds intimacy challenging. Love for him is more of a high than a deep sharing of self. He seeks the deep thrill of love that comes from a woman of passionate nature like Rachel rather than a woman of deep emotion like Leah. Jacob gravitates to the romantic love of the poets rather than the practical love of real life.

But, whatever man’s plans, God often intends something different. Jacob lusts for Rachel but his future is with Leah.

We men of the modern era can draw the appropriate lesson.

The Sensitivity Of A Tzaddik

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

When Yaakov met Rachel at the well, he experienced conflicting emotions. He felt tremendous joy at having finally met his bashert, yet he raised his voice and cried. Rashi explains that he cried because he came empty-handed. He said, “My father’s servant came with ten camels laden with gifts and finery, and I come with empty hands.”

Rashi goes on to explain why Yaakov didn’t bring a gift for Rachel. When Yaakov found out that Eisav was plotting to kill him, he fled from his father’s home. Eisav sent his son Alifaz to chase down Yaakov. Alifaz was a tzaddik, and when he approached Yaakov he said, “I can’t kill you because you are an innocent man. On the other hand, what will be with the command of my father?” Yaakov said to him, “A poor man has the halachic status of a dead man. Take my money, and it will be considered as if you killed me, so on some level you will have fulfilled your father’s words.”

As a result, Yaakov came to the well empty-handed. When it was time to propose to Rachel, he didn’t have the gifts that would be expected, and so he raised his voice and cried.

This Rashi becomes difficult to understand when we focus on who these people were. The Avos may have walked the same planet as do you and I, but they lived in a very different orbit. Their every waking moment was occupied by thoughts of Hashem. They lived and breathed to attain closeness to Hashem. That was the focus of their lives and existence. It was the only thing that mattered to them.

For many years, Rachel knew she was to marry Yaakov and be a matriarch of the Jewish people. You have to assume that when she finally met her bashert, she was overcome with joy. Here was the man she had waited for. Here in front of her was this great tzaddik, the man of her dreams, offering to marry her so she could fulfill her destiny. Her very life’s ambitions and desires were now coming to fulfillment. It is hard to imagine that at that moment she was concerned about glitter and trinkets.

Yet Yaakov cried because he didn’t have a diamond ring to give her. The question is – why? All that Rachel really wanted was being delivered to her. If so, why did Yaakov cry?

It seems the answer is that the lack of gifts may not have bothered Rachel much but the bottom line is that it wasn’t respectful to her. When you come to your kallah, you bring her a gift. That is the way dignified people act. That is the way of the world, and it isn’t proper to come without a gift. On some level, it is treating her without the kavod due to her, and that caused Yaakov pain – so much pain that he raised his voice and cried.

Everyone Hungers for Recognition

This is a tremendous lesson to us because the people among whom we live aren’t on the level of Rachel. A slight to their honor causes them real pain. People will go to great lengths to protect their reputation and dignity because these things are very important to them. And for that reason we need to develop a real sensitivity to other people’s dignity and honor.

But this concept goes much further. The reality is that there are few people who get enough recognition and respect. We humans have many needs. We need food and drink, shelter and protection, friends and companionship – and most of those needs are met. The one need that that is almost never met is the need to be appreciated. It is something we hunger for, something basic to our success and vitality. Yet there is no store in which it can be bought, no marketplace in which it can be acquired. And a person often can go around with a deep hunger, not even realizing what is amiss.

One of the greatest acts of kindness I can do for another person is to treat him with honor. If I find your currency and can acknowledge you in that vein, I can give you that which you deeply crave – and it costs me nothing.

What Happened at Rachel’s Tomb?

Monday, October 29th, 2012

I read this at the blog, “Occupied Palestine”:

Thousands of Jewish settlers stormed Bilal bin Rabah Mosque, known by Jews as “Rachel’s Tomb” on Sunday night, and performed Talmudic rituals on the anniversary of ”Rachel’s death.

Do you think that’s the truth?

Oops, I just realized sarcasm doesn’t go over the Internet well.

Here‘s the actual story from Arutz Sheva:

About 13,000 people had arrived at the compound from Thursday evening to Friday afternoon. A total of about 70 thousand people are expected by Sunday.

This year the anniversary of the matriarch Rachel’s passing fell on the Sabbath, when observant Jews do not travel. Those marking the anniversary compensated by moving celebrations of her life to the days immediately before and after.

As part of the preparations for the celebrations, volunteers from the Ichud Hatzalah organization, including doctors and paramedics, were deployed starting on Thursday afternoon at Rachel’s Tomb. As of Saturday night they treated 13 people, including three who were evacuated to hospital. Most of the casualties suffered bruises and injuries as a result of the crowding in the area.

The Egged bus company, which had been providing transportation to the compound, could not handle the large number of visitors, and, as can be seen in the following video, on Saturday night tens of thousands of people began marching on foot from Jerusalem’s Gilo neighborhood to the compound.

Visit My Right Word.

Two Very Different Jews Memorialized on Saturday

Sunday, October 28th, 2012

Memorials for two memorable Jews took place this weekend, though they stood, perhaps, on opposite sides of the political spectrum.

The Matriarch Rachel, wife of the Patriarch Jacob and mother to biblical figures Joseph and Benjamin, was remembered on the 11th of the Jewish month of Cheshvan, being visited by a reported 70,000+ of her and her husband’s descendants.  Jews from all over Israel and all walks of life came on Friday and Saturday night to pay their respects to the beloved matriarch, who is considered to be the mother of aliyah, said to be weeping for her exiled children by the prophet Jeremiah.

On Saturday night, a somewhat different Jew was also remembered, albeit by a significantly smaller and less pious crowd.  Less than 25,000 people gathered in Tel Aviv on Saturday night to remember former Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin.  Less a celebration of his life and accomplishments than a nostalgic gathering for Oslo and reflection on his murder, the Rabin memorial this year was themed “Remembering the Murder: Fighting for Democracy”.

Rachel is Weeping Over You!

Friday, October 26th, 2012

The yartzeit of our Matriarch, Rachel, falls this year on Shabbat. Every year, more and more people gather at Rachel’s Tomb to pay respects to the Matriarch who is known as Rachel Emanu – Rachel Our Mother.

Thousands of pilgrims will travel there today and tomorrow from all over the country, and perhaps 200,000 more will make the annual pilgrimage the day after Shabbat, every type of Jew there is, religious and non-religious, Haredim, Hasidim, and Dati Leumi, men, women, and children, busload after busload after busload, from far and near, waiting long hours for their turn to enter the small but beautifully renovated tomb near Betlechem on the way to Efrata .

Rachel’s Tomb is also a very frequented site during the year. The new enclosure houses a Kollel, and while men fill their side of the Tomb around the clock, learning and praying throughout the night, they are outnumbered by the enormous number of women who visit the Tomb, to identify with the mother of the Jewish People and to cry out their prayers for themselves, their families, their children, and for all of the Nation, beseeching the Almighty to grant health and happiness, blessing and salvation, shiduchim-tovim and children, to everyone in distress and need, all in the merit of Rachel Emanu.

While Sarah, Rivka, and Leah are also Matriarchs of the Jewish People, why did Rachel merit the special calling of Rachel Emanu, our mother? On one hand, as the last Matriarch in the chain, we are most directly descended from her. But the reason goes deeper than that. In the Kabbalah, Rachel is identified with the Shechinah, and with the sefirah of Malchut. In her spiritual capacity as the Shechinah, Rachel is truly the mother and provider of the Jewish People, caring, like a mother, for all of her children.

The famous verse of the Prophet Yirmeyahu regarding Rachel declares:

“Thus says the Lord: A voice was heard in Rama, lamentation and bitter weeping – Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted for her children because they are not” (Yirmeyahu, 31:14). What does it mean – “they are not”? It means that Rachel’s children are not in the Land of Israel. It means they have been exiled from the Land. Our Sages tell us that Rachel is not buried with the other Matriarchs in Hevron, but rather “on the way” so that when the Jewish People were exiled from Yerushalayim, as they passed by her Tomb on the way to foreign gentile lands, Rachel would cry over them and beg Hashem to have mercy on them and return them to the Land.

Make no mistake. Rachel’s bitter weeping, still heard today at her Tomb, is over her children in exile. She weeps over you – that’s right – you, the Jews in Brooklyn, and the Jews inLakewood, and her children in LA. You may think things are wonderful, but Rachel’s lamentation and bitter tears are shed over you, filling almost two-thousand years of exile and weeping.

Rachel Emanu weeps over the presidents of Jewish Federations who marry gentiles, and she weeps over the directors of the major Diaspora Jewish organizations who marry Jews. She weeps over the Diaspora rabbis and yeshivas and pop singers and Hollywood directors and stars. Rachel weeps over Sarah Silverman and the tzaddikim who condemn her. She weeps over The Jewish Press and The Jewish News. She weeps over you, you, and you, and yes, she weeps over me, and all of the Jews of Eretz Yisrael who can’t be complete until all of our brothers and sisters return home from their adulterous sojourning in alien gentile lands.

But all is not lost. The Prophet has words of comfort for us and for Rachel:

“Thus says the Lord: Keep thy voice from weeping, and thy eyes from tears; for thy work shall be rewarded, says the Lord, and they shall come back from the land of the enemy; and there is hope for thy future, says the Lord, and thy children shall come back again to their own border” (Yirmeyahu, 31:15-16).

There is hope for the future. You can end Rachel’s tears. You can put an end to your mother’s pain and sorrow. You may believe things are as “colossal” and “gevaltik” as can be in Boro Park, Monsey, the Five Towns, Boca, and Palm Beach, but the Shechinah is weeping over you, and the Holy One Blessed Be He roars out like a lion in the middle of the night over the exile of his children who prefer America to Eretz Yisrael!

Torah Lengthens Life

Friday, September 28th, 2012

Chazal tell us that Torah is our life and the length of our days. Here is a story that proves this statement quite literally.

In Yerushalayim there lived a family in which all the children passed away at an early age. Everything possible was done to protect the children from illness and the slightest danger, however, it was to no avail. Not one child lived past the age of 18.

The family finally appealed to Rabi Yochanan:

“Please help us, help us to have children who will live to an old age like all normal children.”

Rabi Yochanan responded: “It is possible that you are descendants of Eli Kohen Gadol, whose family was cursed with death before old age. There is only one possible method of help. You must study Torah and make sure that your children study Torah. This is the only assurance of life, as it says: ‘For it is your life and the length of your days.’”

The family heard the words of Rabi Yochanan and all of the members began to study Torah day and night. Baruch Hashem, things changed and their children began living.

Overjoyed, the family met to discuss how to repay Rabi Yochanan.

“What can we give the great Rabi Yochanan for giving us this great lifesaving advice? We know that he will not accept money as he lives simply and is satisfied with what he has. Let us, therefore, repay him by naming our children after him.”

And that is exactly what they did, so much so that they eventually came to be known as the Family of Yochanan.

Rachel, Wife of Rabi Akiva

How often does a wife have the dominant influence over her husband, helping to guide him along the correct path? One woman who did was Rachel, daughter of Kalba Savua, the wife of the great Rabi Akiva.

In Yerushalayim there once lived a very wealthy man by the name of Kalba Savua. He not only possessed great riches, but was also honored greatly by the Jews of his time for he took part in all communal affairs. He had been blessed with a daughter, Rachel, who had great beauty and wisdom.

All the important families in Yerushalayim admired her and wanted her for their sons. They offered a great deal – all that any young maiden could desire. Rachel, however, was persistent in her refusal.

“Wealth is false and mere family lineage is vanity; what is truly important is to find a man who is truthful and of high moral character and principles,” she would say.

Days went by and Rachel continued to refuse the tempting offers of the wealthy families, looking instead for the one person who filled the requirements she considered important.

Her father owned vast numbers of sheep and cattle and Rachel was used to going out in the fields and looking over her father’s property. One time, as she walked she met one of the shepherds. Over time they got to know each other and Rachel was sure that this was the man she wanted to marry.

His name was Akiva the son of Yosef, and he was possessed of wonderful character and moral traits. Unfortunately, he had never been given the opportunity to learn and so he remained woefully ignorant of the Holy Torah. He promised Rachel, however, that if they married he would go and study Torah.

Rachel approached her father: “Father, I have found the man whom I desire to marry and I wish your blessings.”

When Kalba Savua heard these words he was overjoyed.

“I am very happy for you. Who is the man that is to be your future husband?”

“His name is Akiva Ben Yosef, and he is a shepherd who takes care of some of your flocks.”

Kalba Savua turned pale.

“What? I can hardly believe my ears. Do you mean to say that you have refused the hands of so many worthy young men and want to marry an ignorant and worthless shepherd? Stop talking such nonsense and put the thoughts out of your mind lest you bring shame down upon your head and upon that of your family.”

But Rachel only shook her head and said: “No, I have made up my mind and I intend to marry Akiva.”

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities

Friday, August 17th, 2012

Dear Rachel,

It’s been over 40 years and I am still haunted by the ugly memories. As I relive some of the worst moments of my life, I hurt all over again. The crippling wave of emotions that washes over me does a number on me… again and again I am torn between feelings of guilt and rage. Why did I allow it? What was I thinking? How could he have?!

Somehow with the help of G-d I acquired the coping skills to enable me, baruch Hashem, to raise a family and become a doting grandmother. But the intense pain seared into my psyche still surfaces, and when it does it burns with unbearable intensity.

When I see abusers and molesters, disguised as leaders and counselors, being coddled – while their victims are scorned and their claims discredited, it’s as if I am that young girl again, used and abused at the whim of a recognized and supposedly respectable mechanech.

Therapists I’ve seen over the years have assured me that I have nothing to feel guilty about. But I argue that I wasn’t a child anymore – at eighteen I should have known better and could have spurned the come-ons. Okay, maybe a savvy, street-smart, self-assured 18-year old would have done just that. But with my lack of sophistication and self-confidence, I was easily conned and blinded by his wit and charm. And he had plenty of both, with intelligence thrown in for good measure.

He also had a lovely family. And his wife must have been the envy of every teenager who had a crush on her husband and who would line up at the door of his office every chance they got, hoping to catch a private audience with their rebbe/teacher/principal.

He wasn’t handsome in a striking way, but he oozed charisma. And in his low-key, unassuming and easygoing manner he actually had me convinced that he cared about me, that his sole concern was my wellbeing and happiness, and that there was nothing inherently wrong with our relationship.

It began when my high school years were behind me. I was no longer under his tutelage when I chanced on getting a ride with him from my small hometown to the big city where I worked. We weren’t alone on our lengthy drive, at least not at first. On the second or third round, we were. Then came the convenient “to rest up a bit” overnight stops. He was sweet, gentle, persuasive and he knew just what to say.

It lasted a few months, during which time I would often commute by bus to meet up with him and spend a leisurely Sunday together. Weirdly, he once invited me to spend a Shabbos in his home where I was warmly welcomed by his family, where he behaved of course and acted as the perfect family man practicing hachnassas orchim.

So what made me so gullible? Trust me, Rachel, no one would have believed it of me. I was the studious, no-nonsense, goody-goody type, a conservative dresser, and not particularly outgoing. In fact, my idea of a good time was to curl up with a book rather than hang out with friends. Besides, as a middle child I had always felt upstaged by my older sister whom I considered to be way smarter and better looking than I, while my youngest sib was adorable and deserved all the attention she got.

Our holocaust-survivor parents were devoted to a fault but were mainly focused on making ends meet, serving wholesome meals on time and dutifully attending PTA meetings. Obviously deeply pained about having lost large segments of their families to the gas chambers, they didn’t seem to have the strength or inclination to demonstrate their love for us in a tangible way. Hugs and kisses were reserved for those rare occasions when they would be reunited with kin following years of separation.

So maybe I needed to be needed, to be loved, to be complimented… and to be hugged. And this man, at least 25 years my senior, knew exactly who would be unable to resist his appeal and withstand the nisayon — the net he so cleverly laid out to ensnare his vulnerable prey.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/chronicles-of-crises/chronicles-of-crises-in-our-communities-163/2012/08/17/

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