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September 30, 2014 / 6 Tishri, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘trees’

Why It’s Important To Know Hebrew

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

Hebrew — knowledge of the language of the Jewish people is essential.

Jews pray in Hebrew, and therefore should know the words they say.

The Torah is in Hebrew, and it’s better to understand it in its original form.

Hebrew is the international language of the Jewish people and in all the places I’ve been around the world, Hebrew works better than English.

And…many of the blog posts I simply don’t have time to write, are based on sources in Hebrew. These stories would fascinate you, yet I simply do not have the time to translate them all for you.

For example – Maariv reports on how the JNF has capitulated to Leftist demands to stop planting trees in the Negev, despite the land being 100% State of Israel land and upheld by the courts. Source (in Hebrew)

The Jewish woman from Bat-Yam who started going out with “David”…and his strange behavior caused her to have him investigated by private investigators. They revealed that he was an Arab…married with 4 children. And her response? Don’t tell anyone, so she can continue her relationship with him…she honestly believes she can continue this way. Source (in Hebrew)

High School students expelled for having setting up a table for students to put on tefillin. The Secular high school in Haifa (no, not Modiin) said they were not expelled for the tefillin, per se, but for arrogant behavior. Source (in Hebrew)

Merrill Lynch analyst says Bezeq Telecom stock will rise 47% Source (in Hebrew) Bezeq?! Mashiach must be here…

MK Dr. Ahmad Tibi; A Jew that expects an [Israeli] Arab to sing the “Hatkiva” [Israe's national anthem] is either an idiot or crazy, or he is MK [David] Rotem [Yisrael Beiteinu party] or MK [Michael] Ben-Ari [Ichud Leumi] (Haaretz, 10 AM today)

So what can we expect from Israeli Arabs without being considered crazy?

Israel Celebrates Tu B’Shevat

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

School children, families and communities across Israel celebrated the holiday of Tu B’Shevat on Wednesday, planting trees and eating fruits native to the Land of Israel in honor of the New Year of the Trees.

Tu B’Shevat is one of four “New Years” mentioned in the Mishnah.  Occurring on the 15th day of the Jewish month of Shevat, it is the first day of the yearly agricultural cycle, and is important in terms of calculating biblical tithes and the appropriate time to begin cultivating fruits for eating.

According to Jewish law, a tree which is under the age of three may not be farmed for its fruits, but must be allowed to grow uninhibited, a law called Orlah.  Only after the tree reaches the age of three may its fruits be taken for eating.  Fourth-year fruits crops are brought to Jerusalem as a tithe, a law called Neta Revai.  Tu B’Shevat is the cut-off date for calculating the age of a fruit-bearing trees, and is important today for maintaining kosher standards  for the religious community, which continues to follow the laws of permitted fruits according to age.

In the 16th century, the great kabbalist and mystic Rabbi Yitzchak Luria of Tzfat (the Arizal) instituted the tradition of making a Tu B’Shevat seder including fruits grown in the Land of Israel and featuring those which constitute the seven species noted in the Book of Deuteronomy, Chapter 8: “For the Lord thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths, springing forth in valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, and vines and fig-trees and pomegranates; a land of olive-trees and honey.” The purpose of conducting the seder, which involves eating specific fruits, drinking four cups of wine, and saying blessings would raise people and even nature up to a higher spirituality.

Tu B’Shevat is also the time when members of the Chassidic and Sephardic communities pray for the etrog they will use during the holiday of Sukkot.

Planting a date palm in Hebron with the Kumah organization, 2006

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin planting a tree with the Jewish National Fund, 2012

Pack containing the Seven Species, all grown in Israel

Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Preaches Killing of Jews in Sermon

Monday, January 16th, 2012

Top Palestinian Authority religious leader, Muhammad Hussein, glorified the killing of Jews as a religious edict for Muslims at an event celebrating the founding of Fatah last week.

Hussein cited the Hadith, an Islamic holy text, saying:

“The Hour [of Resurrection] will not come until you fight the Jews.

The Jew will hide behind stones or trees.

Then the stones or trees will call:

‘Oh Muslim, servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.’”

 

Big Bang On Glenbrook

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

For 10 years our front door was 35 feet from the busiest road leading in and out of Morristown, New Jersey. Zoom, zoom, zoom…one car after another going 40-50 miles per hour, not only during the morning and afternoon rush hours, but all week long. Even when we stood by our front door, we had to yell at the top of our lungs to call to our children who were playing in our tiny front yard. “Why didn’t you come in when we called you?” my wife often asked. “We didn’t hear you,” they often answered. Sometimes it was an excuse. On Shabbos, traffic was lighter but far from quiet. Many times we had to close the windows to have a conversation at our Shabbos table.

Recently we moved to Monsey, New York. Divine Providence led us to a foreclosed house on Glenbrook Road in the Wesley Hills neighborhood of Monsey. Sometimes, but not too often, one will see three cars travelling down the road at the same time. On Shabbos a car going down Glenbrook is a rare sight – maybe two or three during the entire 25 hours. But it’s not just the rarity of cars. The narrow forest of tall, mature, and majestic trees running behind the homes on Glenbrook imbue the neighborhood with an added aura of peace and quiet. Shabbos in Monsey is like a taste of Gan Eden.

One of the most beautiful – and most memorable – days that I can remember in our new neighborhood occurred on Friday, June 3, 2011.  The air felt warm and dry, the sun shined softly, and the sky reflected a gorgeous blue. What a contrast with the weather of May – weeks of heavy rains, cloudy skies, strong winds, alternating days of chilly air and muggy high heat, the threat of tornados – and, worst of all, water in my basement.

By 7 p.m. on that delicious Friday, the serenity had reached its peak. All of the men and boys (except for me and a few others who don’t make Shabbos early) had already gathered in shul. Soon they would be singing “L’cha dodi: Come, my Beloved, to meet the Bride; let us welcome the Shabbat.”

My son Dovid and I were standing on our deck, cooking chicken on the grill for the Shabbos meal. The fat from the chicken dripped and the flames flared up with a sizzling crack and a pop. For my son and me, Shabbos would begin in an hour at sunset. In the meantime, we were sharing with one of those rare “Kodak moments” before the big day –four days away when Dovid would turn 13 and become a “man.” Dovid’s zaidy, my father, of blessed memory, would have cherished being at his grandson’s bar mitzvah. However, that’s the way of life – until death will be forever removed. Meanwhile, the old generation must eventually make room for the new one. Young trees cannot grow tall when overshadowed by the grand, old trees. In such a peaceful neighborhood, it’s easier to meditate on such thoughts.

Holding the tongs, Dovid flipped over a grilled thigh of chicken.

Rrrripp! Bang!

We jumped. Lightning? Thunder? No, the sky was all blue.

Bang! Bang! Bang!

“What was that?” I asked.

“Sounds like fireworks,” Dovid said.

Jeff, the neighbor next door, called out from his yard, “Tzvi, did you hear that?”

The three of us ran to the front. The road was clear. It wasn’t a car accident. We ran up Glenbrook. A group of women and girls were standing in the driveway of the Epstein’s house.

‘Sovev, Sovev’ – Round And Round We Go

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

“What a depressing book!” is a common response to reading Sefer Kohelet. It seems at first glance that Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, is telling us there is no purpose to all of man’s efforts, whether intellectual, material or social.

However, this nihilistic view often erroneously attributed to Kohelet is not only antithetical to many Jewish beliefs taught by the Torah, it is even contradictory to statements Kohelet himself makes. What then is the message of Sefer Kohelet? Is there a way to interpret Kohelet’s oft-quoted statement “Hevel Havalim hakol hevel” – “Futility of futilities, all is futile” – in a positive, perhaps even inspiring light?

The word hevel appears no fewer than thirty-eight times in the sefer, and if Shlomo HaMelech is telling us all is hevel, it is imperative to properly translate this word. When studying Tanach and trying to define a word, one needs to look at the first place that word appears and translate the word based on the context.

The first place the word hevel appears is in the story in Bereishit of Kayin and Hevel. Hevel is the first person to introduce mortality into the world since he is the first human to die. “Hevel” is therefore defined as vanity or futility since his death teaches us that nothing lasts, all is fleeting, life is like the breath released from our bodies – non-tangible, transient. But there was more to Hevel’s story than his death; there was his life.

In his life he achieved something wonderful and everlasting – a relationship with God. Through his sacrifice he was granted Divine deliverance, and “God turned favorably toward Hevel.” Though Hevel’s death taught us life is not eternal, his life taught us how to gain transience in this world through developing a relationship with God.

The very fact that Kohelet tells us he has “witnessed all the deeds done under the sun, and indeed, all is futile and accomplishes nothing” is meant to inspire us to live life to the utmost by filling it with spiritual endeavors and God’s Torah and mitzvot – the only pursuits that have lasting value as opposed to everything else that in Kohelet’s view is equivalent to “chasing winds.”

A couple of weeks ago I was at an amusement park with my family, enjoying the last few days of summer vacation. My three-year-old son wanted to go an a ride called Turtle Whirl. Needles to say, the ride featured a lot of whirling and spinning. I could barely look at it without feeling slightly ill. My husband graciously agreed to accompany my son and I happily agreed to watch from the sidelines and take pictures. However, try as I might, I wasn’t able to get a single picture – the ride was spinning so fast it was impossible to capture their smiling faces.

Isn’t life the same? How often do we have days – even weeks, months or years – when we feel like we’re spinning around so continuously it seems impossible to even pause long enough to catch one’s breath, let alone stay focused and find meaning in it all?

This idea is what inspired me to create the artwork “Sovev, sovev” pictured on the front page of this week’s Jewish Press. In the artwork, the majority of Sefer Kohelet is written in concentric circles – a dizzying feat in it of itself. As Kohelet instructs us, life and our daily activities are cyclical, just as nature is cyclical. The sun rises, the sun sets, the wind blows from east to west and then back again from west to east. As the Maharal teaches, human actions mirror nature.

Even the words of Kohelet seem cyclical – Shlomo walking us through his logic and analysis of human endeavors just to bring us back to the same point: “hakol hevel” – “all is futile.” The challenge through this dizzying ride of life is to find meaning and perspective.

The Avudraham explains that the words of Kohelet were culled from sermons given by Shlomo HaMelech every seven years on Sukkot when the Jews would gather in Yerushalayim to celebrate the holiday and fulfill the mitzvah of hakhel (one of the reasons the book is called Kohelet).

Coping With Irene’s Wrath: New Yorkers Tell Their Stories

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011


As Hurricane Irene barreled toward New York late last week, city officials, still smarting over what critics called a tentative response to the great blizzard of 2010, acted proactively, shutting down mass transit and ordering a mandatory evacuation in zones expected to be directly in the path of the massive storm.


The mandatory evacuation order, which covered Manhattan Beach, Coney Island, Seagate, the Rockaways and parts of Staten Island, was issued Friday afternoon, with people told to leave their homes by 5 p.m. the next day. While that gave residents more than 24 hours to make their preparations, thousands of Orthodox Jews living in the designated areas as well as in neighboring parts of Nassau County, including the Five Towns and Long Beach, had just hours until the onset of the Sabbath. They all wrestled with the same question: Where to spend Shabbos?


Phone calls, text messages, e-mails and posts on Jewish news sites were used to circulate information, including a steady stream of evacuation updates and halachic guidelines for which emergency actions were permissible on Shabbos.

 

 


Downed tree in Brooklyn testifies to Irene’s fury.

Hurricane was downgraded to a tropical storm

but left penty of damage in its wake.

 

The Orthodox Union issued hurricane guidelines originally produced by Rabbi Kenneth Brander, dean of Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future, advising people to keep yahrzeit candles and flashlights lit over Shabbos and to have a radio on at a low volume in a side room for emergency bulletins. In the event that Irene made landfall on Shabbos, the guidelines urged everyone to daven at home and to assume their eruv was down, but allowed for carrying, preferably in an irregular fashion, in case of medical need, danger to life and limb and for the elderly and small children.


Rabbi Yekusiel Yehuda Meisels, the Seagate Rav, urged residents of Coney Island and Seagate to leave their homes to avoid potential chillul Shabbos should they be forced to evacuate on Saturday, and the Agudath Israel of Bayswater sent an e-mail at 4:38 Friday afternoon informing area residents of Zone B, which included Far Rockaway, Bayswater and Belle Harbor, that if they had a place to go for Shabbos they were halachically required to leave the area.


Several shelters were opened to accommodate those who needed food and lodging for Shabbos, including in Yeshiva Sh’or Yoshuv in Far Rockaway and in Young Israel of Bayswater.


Achiezer, a Far Rockaway-based community resource center, offered placement for families in both West Hempstead and at Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim in Kew Gardens Hills.

 

 


 


Water reached almost five feet high at the

Sun Circle Bungalow Colony in South Fallsburg, N.Y.

 

Some sought temporary shelter with friends or relatives. Others were steadfast in their decision to stay home. Many found they simply did not have enough time to pack up and leave before Shabbos and were left wondering if they would be forcibly removed from their homes once the evacuation deadline passed.


As it turned out, Irene had been downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it arrived in New York. So for most area residents, the much ballyhooed monster hurricane was at worst a soggy inconvenience. But in at least three cases in the Jewish community, the hurricane left tragic consequences in its wake.


David Reichenberg, a 50-year-old Orthodox Jewish father of four from Spring Valley, died saving a father and his 6-year-old son from a downed power line. Reichenberg came into contact with the live wire and was electrocuted.


Reichenberg had stopped to help the boy and his father who were viewing damage outside their home in Rockland County. The boy had touched a metal fence electrified by a fallen wire. Reichenberg pulled the two from the fence, but could not escape himself, witness Moishe Lichtenstein told the New York Daily News.


“When I got there the victim was on the ground and he was touching the wire, which was in the water,” Lichtenstein said. “When emergency officials got there, they couldn’t touch him. We were standing there for like five or 10 minutes. We were just praying, ‘God help this man.’ “


In an interview with JTA, a longtime friend of Reichenberg, Rabbi Avrohom Braun, described the deceased as an “upbeat person with unshakable faith.” Rabbi Braun is director of admissions and education at Ohr Somayach yeshiva, which Reichenberg attended 25 years ago. Every morning, Reichenberg, who ran a sign-making shop, would attend 6 a.m. classes before opening his store, Rabbi Braun said. He also said Reichenberg regularly volunteered to help coordinate Shabbos meals for impoverished families in Rockland County, which has a large population of Orthodox Jews.


Michael Kenwood, 39, also died while attempting to help others. A volunteer first aid worker from Princeton, N.J., Kenwood was checking a submerged car that rescuers thought was occupied when he became untethered and slipped. Kenwood was swept away by the current and later was pulled unconscious from the waters.


Rozalia Gluck, a Holocaust survivor originally from Russia, died after she was trapped in a Catskills motel that was swept away by flood waters during the storm. She was 82.


In all, as of Tuesday afternoon some 48 deaths had been attributed to Irene.


* * *


Many of those who survived the storm encountered difficulties of their own. Among those who opted to stay home for Shabbos rather than evacuate was Chana, a resident of Bayswater who declined to give her last name. Living on the second floor of a residence located on higher ground, away from the bay, she felt confident she was out of harm’s way. Chana found Shabbos to be rainy but uneventful, though several rabbis told her she should have left the area.


After Shabbos, Chana and her neighbor heard news reports saying that power might be cut in their area and they decided to spend the night in West Hempstead. By about 9 a.m. Sunday, the house where Chana was staying had no phone, Internet or cable service. Across the street, there was no electricity and two houses had been hit by fallen trees, one of which had been split in half by lightning.


Chana left West Hempstead with her neighbor in the early afternoon; the area looked like a slalom course, with downed trees dotting the roads. Returning to Bayswater, an area that was supposed to be much harder hit by Irene, Chana reports that she saw only two fallen trees.


“I got home and everything was exactly where I had left it,” said Chana. “The garbage cans, the plants, the rosebushes, not a single item had been damaged. Bayswater was supposed to be the dangerous place to be, but it turns out that the place I went to escape Bayswater was hit even harder by Irene. I should have listened to my instincts and just stayed home. I think after Katrina and the big blizzard this year, everyone just panicked.”


Cedarhurst resident Sholom Jacobs had been contemplating going away for Shabbos with his family. Hearing news of the evacuations sealed the deal and the Jacobs family packed up their car and headed north, spending Shabbos in Monsey and Motzaei Shabbos at the Pearl River Hilton, also in Rockland County. Heading back to Cedarhurst, he noted downed trees and some flooded streets. Jacobs was grateful to find everything in his house both dry and in working order, though friends informed him that many people in the low lying areas had water in their basements and numerous homes in Cedarhurst were without power. “I think Monsey and upstate got hit harder than we did,” said Jacobs.


Jacobs said he has no regrets about leaving for Shabbos.


“There is no way to predict exactly where these things will land and what the damage will be. It’s better to be safe than sorry.”


Joseph Horowitz of Lawrence was one of those who stayed home for Shabbos, but found the day very stressful.


“It was so close to Shabbos by the time we were told to leave that we weren’t comfortable leaving,” he said. “With so many people leaving the area and so much traffic, who really had time to get anywhere? Besides, many people stayed because they just didn’t have anywhere to go.”


In Shaaray Tefila, where Horowitz davens, those who stayed behind were clearly on edge. There were regular hurricane updates during the day and a visit from the mayor. Conversation centered around whether or not Maariv would be davened at the earliest possible time so that people could evacuate.


“Shabbos just didn’t feel like Shabbos,” said Horowitz.


While many people evacuated the Five Towns, there were some hardy souls who braved the elements and actually traveled to the evacuation zone for Shabbos.


“My friend was making a bar mitzvah in Cedarhurst,” explained Mindy, who only gave her first name. “We were almost at our destination when we found out about the mandatory evacuation order. We didn’t have enough time to turn around, sit in the traffic that was piling up on Rockaway Turnpike and still make it home in time for Shabbos. My friend came to my son’s wedding in the middle of a blizzard. Was I really going to miss her son’s bar mitzvah for a hurricane?”


Mindy and her husband found Shabbos to be rainy but calm. As Shabbos ended, there were people going around to the various shuls telling people to leave the area, so Mindy and her husband packed up and they drove home. They passed a few flooded streets but made it home in record time.


“Ten minutes after we left Cedarhurst they shut down Rockaway Turnpike,” Mindy said. “By the time we got home both Mayor Bloomberg and the Nassau County executive were telling everyone to just stay where they were. Thankfully we got out at just the right time.”


* * *


While New York City was hit less hard than anticipated, some rural vacation spots were not as lucky.


Menachem Bornstein of Far Rockaway spent last weekend with his wife’s family in Camp Morasha, located in Lake Como, Pennsylvania, where the torrential rains began after midnight on Motzaei Shabbos.

 

 


Workers at Camp Morasha remove a fallen tree from on top of a bunk.

(Photo courtesy of Menachem Bornstein)

 

“While we had a minyan over Shabbos, I had to drive about eight miles for a minyan on Sunday morning,” said Bornstein. “On my way back it was extremely windy with branches falling down, and as I got to the camp there was a huge fallen tree blocking the road. I stopped my car and that was when I began to smell smoke. I turned around and saw that there was smoke behind me – a tree had fallen and hit a power line.”


Bornstein called 911 and managed to get back into the camp by going with a janitor who had appeared on the scene.


By 11 a.m. Sunday the camp had neither water nor electricity. There were twelve fallen trees in the camp, including an extremely large tree that had fallen on Bornstein’s in-laws’ cabin but miraculously did not crash through the roof.


Camp cooks prepared the food by candlelight and large generator-powered floodlights were used in the dining room to provide light for the meals. While water was restored to the camp at 8:30 Sunday night, it took until late Monday afternoon for the electricity to come back on.


Despite the soggy weather, winds and other difficulties, Bornstein said his children had a great time.


(Additional reporting by JTA)

The Sprouting Of Mashiach

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011
           What is it about Tu B’Shevat?
            There are four “Roshei Hashanah.”
The First of Tishrei we all know about. That is the day we blow the shofar.
The First of Nissan and the First of Elul come and go in our times without much notice.
             But Tu B’Shevat is different. There is a sense of simcha, a sense of hope and many minhagim associated with it: we eat fruit and make a Shehecheyanu. We omit Tachanun.
           What is different about Tu B’Shevat?
One reason for the simcha is the universal joy felt at the advent of spring, and Tu B’Shevat is a harbinger of spring. “For on this day the strength of the soil of Eretz Yisrael is renewed and it begins to yield its produce and demonstrate its inherent goodness” (Book of Our Heritage, page 331). Who does not experience a surge of hope when the snows melt, the air turns warm and the trees are filled with magnificent blossoms? It hints of techias hameisim, the resurrection of the dead.
   In fact, the blessing of techias hameisim in Shemoneh Esrei ends with the words “umatzmiach yeshuaand He causes salvation to sprout.”
   I would have thought the shofar sounding and Mashiach ben David riding in on a donkey is far from “sprouting,” but apparently not.
   Actually the blessing for Mashiach implies sprouting. Does it not say “tsemach David – the sprouting of David”?
   Why is Redemption compared to the agricultural process?
   I believe this can illuminate the nature of the geulah shelemah.
 
   Where did King David come from? His great-grandmother Ruth came from Moab, a nation founded in perversity and immorality (the relationship between Lot and his daughter). Mashiach is raised in darkness and appears from the most unlikely of all possible places. As we say in Psalms, “Even ma’asu habanim haisa l’rosh pina – the stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone .” (Psalm 118). This refers to David, according to the Targum. No one, not even David’s own family, wanted to believe David had been selected by God to be the redeemer of Israel.
   What is a seed and how does it germinate? It lies in blackness and obscurity, under the ground, unseen by the world. No one knows where it is. Some people forget about it completely, and during the winter it is buried under snow and ice in the frozen earth. It requires rain. From where does the seed arise? It comes from the fruits of the past, which have died and rejoined the earth after having nourished past generations.
This is so much like Mashiach ben David. Mashiach also lies, so to speak, in obscurity. No one knows who Mashiach is and where he will arise. He requires tears just as the seed underground requires rain. And Mashiach arises from the past; he is the fruit of King David, who will come to nourish future generations just as his father nourished generations of the past.
What is the highest form of food? After the Flood, mankind was permitted meat in order to have the strength to live in the new and challenging world. What about before the Flood?
After the expulsion from the Garden, Hashem said to Adam, “accursed is the ground because of you. Through suffering you shall eat of it . Thorns and thistles shall it sprout for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field. By the sweat of your brow shall you eat of the bread until you return to the ground from which you were taken, for you are dust, and to dust shall you return” (Bereishis 3: 17-19).
   In other words, after the Expulsion mankind started eating herbs. After the Flood mankind started eating meat. What about before the Expulsion?
   It seems mankind was meant to eat fruit of the trees, from all types of trees except one.
   Why is the fruit of the tree the highest form of food?
   Herbs require destroying the plant. When you pull up a carrot from the ground you have uprooted the plant. There is no more carrot plant. You will eat, but you have destroyed a plant.
   When you eat meat, you have killed an animal. Your chicken or your steak or your fish required destruction of an animal.
   But the fruit of the tree is perfect. Nothing has been killed. The tree remains to produce more fruit and to bear beautiful blossoms and fruits. The fruit itself will produce more trees. In fact, I heard the brilliant Reb Zev Smith say he heard that if you plant one apple seed, it will grow into a tree, and then you take the apples from that tree and plant all their seeds, within twenty years you can feed the entire world from that one seed.

   This is Mashiach ben David. From this one “sprouting” seed of the Tree of Yishai the entire world will be saved. This is “tsemach David,” the sprouting of David. This is what excites and thrills us on Tu B’Shevat. We feel the sap pulsing in the trees and sense the imminent sprouting of the advent of Mashiach ben David, may we greet him soon in our days.

 

 

Roy Neuberger’s latest book, “2020 VISION” (Feldheim), is available at Jewish bookstores, Barnes & Noble, Borders, and online at Amazon.com. Roy can be contacted at roy@tosinai.com.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-sprouting-of-mashiach/2011/01/12/

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