Rebbe Nachman taught: “The main thing is, ‘From the belly of She’ol [the deepest pit of hell] I screamed!’ (Jonah 2:3)” (Likutey Moharan II, 48).
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Monday, April 28, 2014
Engraving by Gustave Dore
Sichos HaRan 93
Translated and annotated by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, Rabbi Nachman’s Wisdom (Breslov Research Institute), pp. 215-219 (with minor modifications)
One of the underlying concepts of this at times cryptic teaching is that the sefirah of Gevurah (Might) is both the source of division and anger in creation – and the necessary factor in “bringing down the light” so that it will not harm the beholder. This is the principle that Rebbe Nachman identifies with “the sage who is vindictive and vengeful as a snake.”
As mentioned by the RaMCHaL and also several early Chassidic masters, the word “Nachash (snake)” has the same gematria as “Mashiach (Messiah)”—358. This suggests that the Messiah will tranform the negative energy personified as the biblical snake by using it to bring down the loftiest light to the lowest levels. This transformation of the negative to the positive is also related to the future resurrection of the dead.
There is a light that shines in a thousand worlds.
This light is so intense that the average person cannot accept it.
It can only be accepted by a great sage who can divide the thousands into hundreds.
Such a sage can divide this great light into smaller portions that can be grasped by those below him. They can then receive it a little at a time.
A lesson may be so complex that it is incomprehensible. However, if it is broken into many simpler concepts, each one can be understood by itself. The entire lesson in this way becomes clear.
The same is true of the light that shines in a thousand worlds.
It is one simple light that cannot be perceived in part. A single concept, it can only be taken as a whole.
There is a scholar who is vengeful and vindictive like a snake. He can divide the thousands into hundreds. Such a sage can divide this great light into portions that can be comprehended and accepted.
It is written (Proverbs 17:9), “ He who harps on something separates a prince.”
Rashi writes that “he who harps,” is one who is vengeful and vindictive, harping on what another does to him. Through this, he “separates a prince” — he separates himself from G-d, who is the L-rd and Prince of the universe.
This refers to an ordinary individual. A sage, however, has a duty to be vengeful and vindictive. The Talmud teaches us, “Every sage who is not vengeful and vindictive like a snake, is no scholar.”
This verse also speaks of the vengeful and vindictive sage who can divide the thousands into hundreds.
“He who harps on something” and is vengeful and vindictive, “separates the Prince.”
A prince is an ALuF [the root letters of which are “alef-lamed-pey”], a leader of thousands.
AeLeF [“alef-lamed-pey] is a thousand.
“He who harps on something” — the vengeful and vindictive sage — “separates the thousands” — and divides the thousands into hundreds.
The Talmud teaches us, “If you see a sage who is vengeful and vindictive like a snake, bind him around your waist.” Rashi explains that “you will eventually derive benefit from his scholarship.”
Such a vindictive sage can divide the great light into portions, separating the thousands into hundreds.
Therefore, “you will eventually benefit from his scholarship.” For without him, the light is so great that you will not be able to grasp it .
There is a logical reason why only a vengeful sage can divide thousands into hundreds, but it is very deep indeed.
One who understands it can bring the dead back to life. He is the one spoken of when the Talmud teaches us, “a time will come when Tzadikim will resurrect the dead.”
One who understands this, truly understands death.
When one divides the thousands into hundreds, he brings the thousand into the hundred and makes death into hundreds.
Thousand is AeLeF — the letter Aleph.
Death is MaVeS — Mem Vav Tav.
Bring the thousands into death — bring the Aleph into MaVeS, and you have Mem Aleph Vav Tav — which spells “MAyOS,” the hundreds.
Bring the thousands into death and you have the hundreds.
One who does not understand this concept does not know why he is now happy.
He does not understand how we speak of G-d’s unity in the second line of the Sh’ma, “Blessed is the name of the glory of His kingdom for ever and ever.”
It is customary to say this line quietly. The Talmud explains the reason with a parable. A princess smells a pudding called Tzikey Kederah, a savory pudding made by the lower classes. If she asks for it, she is disgraced, if she does not, she is discomforted. Her servants therefore bring it to her quietly.
He who does not understand the reason for a vindictive sage, does not understand the significance of the Tsikey Kederah.
He also does not understand the meaning of the first two letters Ches Shin of Chashmal — the electrum seen in Ezekiel’s vision.
He also does not know the meaning of Nogah, the brightness in Ezekiel’s vision, mentioned in the verse (Ezekiel 1:4), “A brightness round about it.”
He also does not know the workings of the Merkavah, the divine Chariot.
He does not understand the concept of the covenant, nor why people dispute him.
The Messiah understands this concept perfectly. Tzaddikim, however, cannot comprehend it unless they themselves can divide the thousands into hundreds. These are the Tzaddikim who are vengeful and vindictive.
These Tzaddikim are the Messiah’s belt.
The Talmud teaches us, “If you see a sage who is vengeful and vindictive like a snake, bind him around your waist.” This is the Messiah’s belt.
Regarding the Messiah it is written (Isaiah 11:5), “the belt around his loins shall be righteousness.” The Targum renders this, “ And Tzaddikim shall be all around him .”
This is the concept of “Matun Matun” — waiting waiting  — the aspect of hundreds. 
The Tzaddikim who can divide thousands into hundreds will be the belt of the Messiah.
These resurrect the lesser Tzaddikim.
 This was said before Chanukah 5567 (1806), during the week of the circumcision of the Rebbe’s son Yaakov; Chayay Moharan 15b. It was said on the “watch night,” the night before his son’s circumcision; Avanehah Barzel p. 32 ($41). The child was born on a Sabbath, and this lesson was delivered when Reb L. Dayin brought the Rebbe fish for the circumcision feast; Yemey Moharnat 14a. For a detailed explanation of this lesson, see Lekutey Halakhos (Choshen Mishpat) Edus 4, Pesach 9, Kiddushin 3:16; Zimras Ha’aretz, 105b.
 Yoma 22b.
 Shabbos 63a.
 Pesachim 68a; Zohar 1:114b, 135a.
 The Sh’ma itself is taken from the Torah, Deut. 6:4-9. This second line, however, is not in the Torah, but is mentioned in the Targum Jonathan on Deut. 6:4. The first line, “Hear O Israel,” is called the “upper unification,’’ while this second line is called the “lower unification”; Zohar 1:18b. See Lekutey Halakhos (Choshen Mishpat) Edus 4:15.
Pesachim 56a; Lekutey Halakhos loc. cit 4:16. Tzikey Kederah is a pudding made of minced meat cooked with wine and spices. Cf. HaMetargem, ad Ioc.; Yoma 75a, Bava Metzia 77b, Chullin 77b, Kesubos 65a.
 These two letters spell Chash—quietness. See Chagigah 13b, where the word Chashmal is broken into two words, Chash Mal—quietness speaking. In the Kabbalah, the Chashmal is the force protecting the Holy from the unholy, and the Chash is the part closest to the Klipas Nogah. Etz Chaim, Shaar Klipas Nogah 2, Mavoh Sha’arim 3:2:14; Lekutey Moharan I, 19:3, 41, 82, 127.
 This refers to the Klipas Nogah, the “bright husk”—intermediate between the realm of the holy and the evil. Through this Klipah, the husks of absolute evil are nourished, and it is man’s task to turn it all into good. Etz Chaim, loc. cit. 4, Shaar HaKlipos 3; Lekutey Moharan I, 19:5.
 Cf. Chagigah 2:1.
 Berakhos 20a, “waiting waiting is worth 400 zuzim (coins).” See Rashi ad loc.
 MaTuN is related to the word MaTNav—loins. With the inclusion of the letter Alef, as above, it also becomes MAyOT—hundreds.
Friday, April 25, 2014
Translated by Dovid Sears
The Gemara (Rosh Hashanah 10b) cites the view of Rabbi Yehoshua that “during the month of Nisan we were redeemed from Egypt, and during the month of Nisan we are destined to be redeemed,” with the coming of Mashiach— may it be speedily in our days.
Since we still have several days left of this auspicious month, it is appropriate to post a few Breslov teachings about Mashiach and the Ge’ulah, as found in the Tcheriner Rov’s anthology, “Otzar HaYirah” (AKA Likutey Eitzos Hameshulosh), Vol. III, pp. 404-408 (Jerusalem: Keren Rabbi Yisrael Dov Odesser edition). All are excerpts or abridgements taken from Reb Noson’s Likutey Halakhos (which we have abbreviated as L”H, while Likutey Moharan is abbreviated as L”M).
There are many other sections of Likutey Halakhos that discuss this subject, as well as a number of references in Likutey Moharan, Sichos HaRan, Chayei Moharan, and in later Breslov writings, such as Rabbi Gedaliah Kenig’s Chayei Nefesh and Sha’arei Tzaddik, and Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Bender’s Si’ach Sarfey Kodesh (compiled by the late Rabbi Avraham Nachman Simcha Weitzhandler). So this is just a small sampling.
The Essence of Goodness
All of the “good points” (nekudos tovos) that are found within every Jew—this [gathering of the good points] is an aspect of the scintillation of the light of Mashiach. For the Mashiach is the very personification of the good. And this [discovery of the good] is brings about the endurance and development of the world, and in turn the building of the Holy Temple (L”H, Hashkamas Haboker 1:8; based on L”M I, 282).
Judging Everyone According to the Scale of Merit
During the period [preceding the Final Redemption] known as the “heels of Mashiach,” the Sitra Achara (“Other Side”) will wax strong, God forbid. At this time a great spiritual sifting and purification will take place, as indicated by the verse “many will be clarified and whitened and refined…” (Daniel 12:10). The main tikkun (rectification of souls) will be accomplished by those tzaddikim who judge everyone according to the scale of merit and find good points even in those who are extremely deficient, God forbid. Through this in particular Mashiach will come. For this is the aspect of Mashiach—as the verses hint, “Many will be refined and whitened … and those who bring the multitudes to righteousness will shine like the stars…” (Daniel 12:10, 3) (ibid., 1:12).
Knowledge and Faith
Mashiach will combine the aspects of Moshe and Dovid, which are the qualities of knowledge (da’as) and faith (emunah). These correspond to the “awakening from above” and “awakening from below” [the Zohar’s terms for the Divine initiative and the corresponding human initiative]. Then an illumination of Keser (“Crown,” the highest sefirah), which Mashiach [uniquely] apprehends, will illuminate us. Through this, perceptions of Godliness will be revealed (L”H, Nefilas Apayim 4:24).
The Future Song
The sweetness of the song that will be awakened in the Future will be the reward of the tzaddikim and the virtuous—in particular the true king of Israel, Dovid-Mashiach, and whoever is closer to him. For the latter are those who “behold the face of the king.” They will be privileged all the more to experience the wondrous sweetness of this song, and from them the rest of Israel will receive, each according to that individual’s proximity to those who behold the face of the king (L”H, Kriyas ha-Torah 6:5, 7).
The Darkness Before the Dawn
Our Sages state: The son of Dovid will come only be-hesech ha-da’as” (Sanhedrin 97a), i.e., when we least expect it. For when Mashiach comes, the renewal of the world will begin—it will be as if the world was actually created anew. This is because the creation of a perfected world will begin then. Therefore, this must be preceded by an aspect of the constriction of the Infinite Light that produced the Vacated Space at the very beginning of creation (see L”M I, 64, citing the Arizal). The constriction entails a removal of light. This corresponds to the hesekh ha-da’as of which our Sages speak, namely, a removal of the light of da’as (knowledge). When this occurs, the constriction will be in full force. And then Mashiach will come. For as soon as the constriction has been concluded, the light of creation will begin to shine anew, and Mashiach will come, may it be speedily in our days (L”H, Minchah 5:4).
The Perfection of Torah and Prayer
Mashiach will elicit a renewal of the Torah to the ultimate degree. This is an aspect of the “Torah of the Hidden Ancient One.” Through this renewal, the path by which we can turn Torah into prayer will fully be brought into the world. Through this, the Jewish people will merit to return to God and to fulfill the Torah completely.
Then prayer will achieve perfection. For the first Redemption came about through the aspect of Torah—the Torah that we received through Moshe Rabbeinu, of blessed memory. Surely Moshe also elicited the tikkun of prayer at that time, since Torah and prayer are interdependent. But nevertheless, the principal ascent of prayer began with Dovid HaMelekh who established the Book of Psalms. This is the very embodiment of turning Torah into prayer. This tikkun will be finished by Mashiach, because the Final Redemption will come about through prayer. Then the Torah too will attain an even greater degree of perfection, since prayer and Torah are part and parcel of one another (L”H, Rosh Chodesh 5:7, 26, 32).
The Tcheriner Rav also includes a similar teaching from Reb Noson in the same chapter (ibid. sec. 13):
In the future, with the advent of Mashiach, Moshe and Dovid will be fused to the ultimate degree of unity. For [as the Zohar states on the verse “until Shilo comes” (Genesis 49:10)] “’Shilo’ is Moshe-Mashiach”; and likewise Dovid is called “Mashiach [the anointed of] the God of Israel” (II Samuel 23:1)—because the soul of Mashiach will be comprised of both Moshe and Dovid. Then the Complete Redemption will take place, after which there will be no further exile. This is because we will merit to heed the directives of Moshe and fulfill them completely—through the aspect of Dovid, for both will be incorporated into one whole.
Then all of the Seventy Nations of the world will be transformed to holiness, and all of them will be gathered unto Moshe-Mashiach, who also incorporates Dovid. This [combination of Moshe and Dovid] corresponds to the paradigms of Torah and prayer, the Written Torah and the Oral Torah, and thought and speech (L”H, Yayin Nesekh 3:6; see there for further explanation of these paradigms).
The main tikkun of righteous judgment (mishpat)—through which the “defect” of the moon will be made whole [see the story in Chullin 60b, which may be understood as a reference to the perfection of Malkhus]—will be accomplished by Mashiach alone. Then all erroneous or wrongful judgment finally will be rectified. Then, Dovid HaMelekh’s throne will be perfected, as indicated by “thrones of judgement, thrones of the House of Dovid” (Psalms 122:5) (ibid., 6:6, 15, 19).
The first Redemption was in the category of compulsion, due to the many miracles that occurred. Then were sanctified all of the Festivals, which commemorate the Exodus. However, the Final Redemption will be in the category of the peace of Shabbos; for Mashiach will conquer the entire world without war at all (see Rebbe Nachman’s prediction in Siach Sarfey Kodesh II, 1-67). This will come about solely due to the profound knowledge of God that will be revealed at that time. As a result, all aspects of the “force of repulsion” (kochos hamakhrichos) that are opposed to the holy automatically will be nullified. Rather, everyone will follow him due to holiness of the “gravitational force” (ko’ach hamoshekh) that he generates. As it is written, “Nobles will kneel before him, and his enemies will lick the dust” (Psalms 72:9), and “For not with haste shall you go forth...” (Isaiah 52:12) [in this context meaning that the Final Redemption will reflect the peace of Shabbos] (L”H, Yom Tov 5:9, based on L”M I, 70).
Behind the Scenes
The entire process of drawing down the soul of Mashiach [into this world] entailed the greatest concealment, secretiveness and strategies—for example, through the incidents of Lot and his daughters, Yehudah and Tamar, and Boaz and Rus [all of whom were ancestors of Dovid and Mashiach]. All of this [i.e., the process culminating in the birth of Dovid] took place in great secrecy and concealment, in order to draw down his soul undetected [by the accusing angels that stand opposed to Dovid and Mashiach].
This is because Mashiach is the personification of secrecy (sod, which also means the hidden, inner dimension of the Torah and the mysteries of prophecy)—the aspect of silence. Therefore, it is forbidden to harbor objections (le-harher), God forbid, about why the exile has gone on for so long. For it is impossible to understand this, which is in the category of the transcendent realities (makifin ha-elyonim) that cannot be grasped. They are an aspect of silence. Thus, the End of Days is hidden and sealed. However, the faithful will not be anxious or disturbed, in their certainty that Mashiach will surely come and not delay; may this be speedily in our days, amen (L”H, Reishis ha-Gez 3:16).
Bringing Down the Light
[In Sichos HaRan, sec. 93, Rebbe Nachman states] that Mashiach perceives to the fullest extent the “light that shines in a thousand worlds.” He also knows perfectly how to constrict the light and divide it into parts, in an aspect of “dividing the thousands into hundreds.” All this is so that those on lower levels may perceive this light, as well. Then “the world will be full of the knowledge of God as the water that fills the sea” (Isaiah 11:9) (LH, Reishis ha-Gez 3:14).
The Anointed Who Anoints
More than all other tzaddikim, Mashiach will strive to elevate everything from disgrace to honor, thus to fulfill the teaching of our Sages, “Do not disparage anyone…” (Avos 4:3); do not belittle anyone in the world. Rather be involved with everyone possible, in order to rectify him and elevate him from all forms of disgrace and shame, and to bring them into the honor that derives from holiness. As it is written, “He will take pity on the poor and destitute … and their blood is dear (yakar) in His eyes” (Psalms 72:13, 14)—as in the sense of dignity (yakar) and honor.
Therefore, Mashiach is so called because he will be anointed with the oil of anointing (shemen ha-mishchah), which elevates everything from disgrace to honor. This is the secret of the anointing of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) and its vessels, as well as the Kohanim (priests) and the Kings of Israel (L”H, Apotaikai 5:9).
Guarantor of the Jewish People
The principal “guarantee” that God accepted concerning the Giving of the Torah was provided by those who were the most trustworthy—the preeminent true tzaddikim. Although the ordinary people too are mutual guarantors (Shavuos 39a), their mutual responsibility is compulsory. Thus, the principal guarantorship is through the preeminent true tzaddikim who direct the Jewish people, guard them against doing evil and protect them from all harm, God forbid, whether physical or spiritual.
However, the main guarantor is the soul of Mashiach, which is the collective soul of all tzaddikim throughout the generations. Mashiach will complete all rectifications (tikkunim) and fix all the damage that was incurred throughout history. This is why Mashiach suffers on behalf of all Israel—because he serves as guarantor for them all. Therefore, Dovid HaMelekh, who was the Mashiach, entreats God, “Be surety for Your servant for good…” (Psalms 119:122). That is, [he declares before God,] “Behold, I have been made a guarantor on behalf of all [at the beginning of the Divine plan, prior to creation]. And no one can stand up to help me fulfill my obligation but You alone!” Thus, he entreats, “Be surety for Your servant for good…” (ibid.) (L”H, Arev 4:3, 4).
The next teaching, with which we will conclude, is based on a statement of Rebbe Nachman that Reb Noson recorded in Chayei Moharan (sec. 527), that any date people fix as the time of the Ge’ulah (Redemption) will prove to be false. Reb Noson adds that the Zohar (Zohar Chadash 12a) and other sources curse those who make such calculations. There too he mentions the year 5600 (1840 CE), which evidently had not yet arrived, as another erroneous prediction, observing, “He may come before, or he may come after, but definitely not in 5600!” This is because of the teaching of our Sages in Sanhedrin 97a cited above, and which he repeats here:
Teshuvah Brings the Ge’ulah
Our Sages state: Mashiach will come only when we least expect it (Sanhedrin 97a), meaning, when we have despaired of the Redemption. That is, although we must believe that surely he will come and not delay—and as it is written, “And if he tarries, I will wait expectantly for him” (Habakkuk 2:3, which is one of the Thirteen Principles of Faith)—nevertheless, it is forbidden to expect his arrival at a set time. That is, one must not declare that he will come on a particular year, as many erred in saying about the year 5600 (1840 CE), asserting that this year would be the End of Days. This led to much mayhem, since it caused various heresies and a desecration of God’s Name. Similarly, in former times they also made predictions of the End of Days, which came to naught. And as [Rabbi Shmuel Bar Nachmani said in the name of Rabbi Yochanan], “May those who calculate the ‘End’ suffer agony!” (Sanhedrin 97b; and cf. Rosh Hashanah 31a).
Rather, we must wait and yearn for him constantly, and nevertheless this will be in the category of hesech ha-da’as [i.e., when we are least expecting it]—for this will be a wondrous event, and we cannot understand the least hint as to when he will come. “The heart does not reveal it to the mouth,” as our Sages state. Yet he will most certainly come in the right time and season, suddenly, when we are least expecting it, and not in keeping with any calculations whatever.
This is because the Redemption is in the category of “God’s ways,” which are the aspects of judgment (mishpat) and righteousness (tzedakah, which can also mean charity). And we can’t fathom how God can govern the universe with these two paradigms in unison; as it is written, “And in judgment, you will perform righteousness.” For the Redemption will take place through righteousness (or charity) and gratuitous kindness; as it is written, “For My sake, for My sake, I will act” (Isaiah 48:11). Nevertheless, it also will reflect the aspect of judgment, because “this matter depends solely upon teshuvah” (Zohar III, 122a), and as it is written, “And a redeemer shall come to Zion, and those who turn from transgression in Yaakov” (Isaiah 59:20).
However, if God conducted Himself toward us with judgment alone, certainly our teshuvah would never suffice to bring the Redemption. It is only because God tempers the judgment, through the most wondrous righteousness and kindness, that He imbues the hearts of Israel with the desire to repent and cry out and pray to God—until His mercy is aroused, and He accepts our modicum of teshuvah and prayer with favor. In a manner of “wonder of wonders,” He will garb righteousness within judgment, and thus bring about the Redemption, in fulfillment of “Zion will be redeemed with judgment and they who return to her with righteousness” (Isaiah 1:27).
This is the meaning of the teaching that Mashiach will not arrive “until they have despaired of the Redemption” (Sanhedrin 97a), since so many predicted dates for the End of Days have come and gone. From this, it may be understood that the matter depends on teshuvah. Therefore, a few people will despair temporarily. They will understand that according to their teshuvah and deeds, it is still impossible for them to be worthy of Redemption. Yet they will strengthen themselves anew to yearn and wait expectantly for God’s mercies—that He will combine kindness and judgment and thus bring the Redemption, in an aspect if “For My sake, for My sake, I will act” (loc. cit.). At the same time, it also will be an aspect of judgment. And because the synthesis and unity of righteousness and judgment are impossible for the mortal mind to grasp, Mashiach will come be-hesech ha-da’as [in this context, in a way that is “beyond da’as”] (L”H, Minchah 5:33).
Friends of the late Asher Lazar, zikhrono livracha, will be gathering together this Sunday afternoon at Rabbi Meyer Fund's shul to share their memories and condolences. The gathering is scheduled for 1:00 PM and probably will continue for around two hours. Rabbi Fund will preside. The public is invited.
Asher passed away in Nachlaot, Israel, last March after a long illness. A soft-spoken, thoughtful man, he was an American baal teshuvah of high ideals and a lifelong spiritual seeker. For a number of years he attended a Breslov shiur in Borough Park given by Rabbi Shlomo Aharon Gottleib, shlit"a, until he and his wife Raizelle made aliyah. He was also a dedicated Macrobiotic cook who, in his characteristic spirit of chesed, would prepare food for others struggling with health issues and actually deliver it to them in many cases. He also wrote a kosher macrobiotic cookbook, which still has not been published.
The Rice House posted the following about Asher on their website regarding the macrobiotic diet in Israel:
"Asher Lazar, a 1978 Kushi Institute graduate and former chef at the Open Sesame restaurant in Boston, recently immigrated to Jerusalem from New York with his wife Raezelle, a compassionate yoga teacher. They are part of the Jerusalem ultra-orthodox community. Asher provides health consultations, takeout food and weekly macrobiotic dinners at his home-based Traditional Jewish Health House. He recently began a macrobiotic soup kitchen for Jerusalem's poor. Asher combines macrobiotic health practice with Torah insights such as suggestions to his clientele that they silently recite Psalms while chewing their food."
When Asher's father became ill, he moved in with Asher and Raezelle until his death in 2010. Asher cared for him until the end.
May Asher's neshamah have an aliyah, and may his legacy of kindness to other live on through all who knew him.
Ruchama King Feuerman presents In the Courtyard of the Kabbalist
In conversation with author Beth Bosworth
Ruchama King Feuerman’s In the Courtyard of the Kabbalist was first published as an e-book in September 2013 as part of the NYRB Lit series. Feuerman’s thrilling tale of courtship, mysticism, and a clash between cultures drew international acclaim, was selected as a National Jewish Book Awards Finalist by the Jewish Book Council, and was deemed “The best novel I’ve read all year” by Barton Swaim at The Wall Street Journal. Now, due to its success as an e-book, NYRB is pleased to announce the first print publication of In the Courtyard of the Kabbalist. Immigrants and natives, Muslims and Jews, prophets and lost souls fill the pages of Feuerman’s novel, which paints a vivid and enchanting portrait of modern Jerusalem. Feuerman discusses her novel with Brooklyn author Beth Bosworth, whose most recent book is The Source of Life and Other Stories.
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