Avodah Mailing List

Volume 04 : Number 256

Wednesday, January 5 2000

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Wed, 5 Jan 2000 09:13:11 -0500
From: richard_wolpoe@ibi.com
Re[2]: Registry of "Who is a Jew"

A colleague once told mee about one community's attempt to make to  Orthodox 
cutnversions as standard for the entire community - including Reform and 
Conservative.   (Please understnad that this goes back many years and that that 
my knowldege is based upon 3rd hand infromation)

The Reform and Conservative would do the "training" for theri converts and an 
Orthodox BD would do the "Ceremony".

The problem in that community was that the "kabbolos ol mitzvos" was seen as 
phony by many in the Orthodox camp thereby leaving the status of the non-Ortho 
in limbo and that caused it to collapse.

Rich Wolpoe

______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: Re: Registry of "Who is a Jew" 

This is the crux of the argument that is used by the 
Orthodox when trying to persuade the Conservative and 
Reform that All coversions should be done by The 
Orthodox Rabbinate.  The argument is that only in this 
way will ALL denominations consider the convert to be 
a Jew, since the Orthodox cannot, and do not acccept 
Conservative and Reform conversions, but both of those 
denominations accept Orthodox conversions.  So why not 
just have one standard that everyone accepts? 
(Insurance, if you will)  

But we know what the response of the Conservative and 
Reform has been: NO WAY.  They consider it an insult 
to the integrity of the movement and will never accept 
Orthodox criteria as the only method of conversion. 
And so do they preach to their flock.  Of course, any 
sincere convert would want acceptance by all 
denominations and would accept the "insurance" of an 
Orthodox conversion. 

Problem is... many if not most conversions aren't 
really sincere.


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Date: Wed, 5 Jan 2000 09:13:29 -0500
From: richard_wolpoe@ibi.com
Re[2]: Avodah V4 #252

Dear Aaron,

WADR, this is NOT my point.

Let me pyut this in balck and white terms:

YU: held that Torah uMadda - it's driving principle was optional,. that 
Torah-only was/is a valid alteratnive

The yeshivishe velt: held that Torah only was the ONLY option and that Torah 
Umadda was ispo facto treif!

Add to this the following: YU knew that otehr Yeshivos considered it possul but 
chose not to "retaliate in kind".  While other Yeshivos felt that YU/Troah 
uMadda was NOT a leigitmate alternative.

If you want details and more subtleties, I will be glad to share them off-list

Rich Wolpoe

______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: Re: Avodah V4 #252 

It doesn't take a lot of highfalutin philosphy, or innovative articulation 
to "preach" that Torah without madda is for everybody. It's the madda part 
that bears rationalization.

I'm not aware of any greaseball (black hat) institutaions thar preach their 
"derech".as a THEIR derech. That is because they don't view themselves in 
contradistinction to a YU type institution. I believe it is only the YU 
world itself that sees itself as one of two choices of derachim. The black 
hat yeshivas are simply teaching Torah, a "derech" I can't imagine a yorei 
shomayim would have a problem with.


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Date: Wed, 5 Jan 2000 08:20:10 -0600
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Avodah V4 #252

On Wed, Jan 05, 2000 at 08:47:36AM +0200, Akiva Atwood wrote:
: Would you include "Greek Wisdom" in madda? 

We never really established what that was, did we?

However, note that during Spain's Golden Era, the Rishonim drew heavily
from such Greeks as Plato, Aristotle and Plotinus (pseudo-Aristotle).


Micha Berger (973) 916-0287          MMG"H for  5-Jan-00: Revi'i, Vaera
micha@aishdas.org                                         A"H 
http://www.aishdas.org                                    Pisachim 94b
For a mitzvah is a lamp, and the Torah its light.         Melachim-II 11

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Date: Wed, 5 Jan 2000 09:21:41 -0500
From: richard_wolpoe@ibi.com
Re[2]: Registry of "Who is a Jew"

FWIW, I heard that prior to being mesader kiddushin we should checked yichus up 
to and including grandparents, but no further.  I don't recall the source.

Rich Wolpoe

______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: Re: Registry of "Who is a Jew" 

> No one wants to be mekarev a Mamzer into 
> Klal Israel. 

how does one apply the dictum that one shouldn't uncover a mamzer? 
(in sanhedrin?)  it seems clear from this that one shouldn't look too 
deeply into another's past, but certainly those making the proposal must 
have another view.


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Date: Wed, 5 Jan 2000 09:27:05 -0500
From: richard_wolpoe@ibi.com
LeChumrah/LeKulah - Salt

re: the proviso

Since broiling is an option, wouldn't that be considered an alternative and 
therefore there is no "dochak" to avoid salt?

FWIW, we were taught wrt missing the 72 hours cut off bro melicho that broiling 
does not cosnitiute a dovor sheyosh lo matirin so this might undermine my 
argument a bit.

Rich Wolpoe

______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: Re: LeChumrah/LeKulah 
Author:  <avodah@aishdas.org> at tcpgate
Date:    1/5/2000 4:11 AM

The Nishmat Avraham (YD 69 # 1) discusses permissibility of salt 
substitutes in Melicha. He rules to permit use of potassium chloride or 
ammonium chloride withthe proviso that the patient is on a strict 
salt-restricted diet. 



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Date: Wed, 5 Jan 2000 09:43:24 -0500
From: gil.student@citicorp.com
Re: Registry of "Who is a Jew"

I haven't seen it mentioned here but a registry was done once before.  See 
Nechemiah 7 (or was that just for Cohanim?).

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Date: Wed, 5 Jan 2000 09:13:52 -0600
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Registry of "Who is a Jew"

On Wed, Jan 05, 2000 at 08:47:44AM -0500, Pawshas@aol.com wrote:
: This is untrue. See Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 268:12.

Someone else said in private email that the Rambam I cited, in particular
Issurei Bi'ah 13:13, states the same. I feel uncomfortable arguing with
someone who wrote teshuvos on the subject, and who probably dealt with these
inyanim lima'aseh, so please remember that the following are *theoretical*
objections, problems I have understanding his position. (Even though I'm
not saying who that "he" is.)

However, in 13:12 the Rambam states that in the days of David and Shelomo,
when we had reason to supspect someone's motives, we tried not to make
geirim. And, when hedyotos did, so now we're talking bedi'eved, "Vihayu
Beis Din haGadol chosheshin lahen. Lo dochin osan, achar shetivlu bichol
makom. Bilo mekarvin osan ad shetiya'eh acharison.

When we get to 13:14, where they did geirus and omitted to check his motives
before hand, if they know that he had an ulterior motive, "yatza miklal
hagoyim, vechosheshin lo ad sheyisba'eir tzidkaso". In a case of ignorance,
he's not bechezkas goy, but again we see the word "chosheshin" -- we can't
say he is a Jew either.

If a safeik of whether he holds a secondary proper motive in addition to the
improper one produces a cheshash in the geirus, I can't see how one can argue
that the Rambam holds that with a chazakah that the 2nd motive doesn't exist
(e.g. an engaged person who converts under the auspices of three men who
don't believe halachah is binding) can produce a geir.

So then what about 13:13 itself -- the geirus of Shimshon and Shelomo's wives?
It very explicitely says "vichashvun hakasuv ki'ilu hein goyos, ubi'isuran
omdin". The biblical examples of people who went through the forms, married
Jews, but were not mekabeil ol mitzvos, are all non-Jews!

More to follow, such as actually adressing RMT's point, after I check the SA
with nosei keilim.


Micha Berger (973) 916-0287          MMG"H for  5-Jan-00: Revi'i, Vaera
micha@aishdas.org                                         A"H 
http://www.aishdas.org                                    Pisachim 94b
For a mitzvah is a lamp, and the Torah its light.         Melachim-II 11

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Date: Wed, 5 Jan 2000 09:22:04 -0600
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Moshe's free will, objective psak, some other issues

On Wed, Jan 05, 2000 at 03:23:01PM +0200, Mrs. Gila Atwood wrote:
:> I don't understand. If in the ideal Moshe should have taken initiative, then
:> his *choosing* to receive a directive was (lulei dimitztafina hayisi omer) an
:> incorrect use of his bechirah.

: Could he really choose to receive?

It was suggested that MR was taken to task for not acting pro-actively with
the selah, and waiting for HKBH's advice. This doesn't really require
receiving, but rather choosing to ask for advice and not just doing what was
obviously necessary (at least, what whould have been obvious to a Moshe).

In either case, this was a decision, and MR was punished for making the
wrong one. IOW, it was a choice that had a right vs wrong. It's hard to
say, therefore, that this doesn't involve "bechirah chafshi" as the term is
usually used.


Micha Berger (973) 916-0287          MMG"H for  5-Jan-00: Revi'i, Vaera
micha@aishdas.org                                         A"H 
http://www.aishdas.org                                    Pisachim 94b
For a mitzvah is a lamp, and the Torah its light.         Melachim-II 11

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Date: Wed, 5 Jan 2000 10:54:10 -0500
From: Eric Simon <erics@radix.net>

>> Here in Baltimore, there's a kid in yeshiva day school who was all the
>> rage in the local sports section, on the radio, TV, etc. Hottest high
>> school b-ball player in the state. Courted by colleges with nice offers.
>> He's going to yeshiva instead.
>I understood that kid had actually enrolled at Maryland but that the 
>school reneged on the promise that he wouldn't have to play on 
>Shabbos. Glad to see he had the principles to leave.

To set some facts straight:

The kid, who is Lubavitch, studied and played basketball last year (in his
Junior year) at Talmudical Academy.  U. Maryland perhaps jumped the gun by
offering an informal scholarship during this year.  The school did _not_
reneg because of shabbos issues, rather the Maryland coach told the kid
(after he had had a poor summer league performance, in part because he had
injured his knee) that they might have overestimated his ability and they
couldn't guarantee how much he would play.  So, he decided he would go to
Towson State Univ. when he graduated high school.

In the meantime, there was still the issue of his senior year in high
school.  His high school games were getting out of hand, with all the press
and what-not.  One game last year had to be played at American University
to accomodate all the interest.

In the community, while some (particularly some Lubavitch) thought that his
athletic gifts (given by HaShem) were to enable him to be a kiddush HaShem
(how many other high school basketball stars are pictured in Sports
Illustrated wearing tefillin?), and to show non-observant Jews that there
are even basketball stars who put Torah above basketball; but many other
people thought there was too much focus on basketball that was taking away
from the real importance of the mission of Talmudical Academy.  Indeed, for
a short while it had become a real zoo.  (I know of one Rav in Baltimore
who is having second thoughts about sending his children to T.A. for this

As a result, this year, his senior year, he has enrolled in a Seventh Day
Adventist school. (!)  This (obviously) creates no conflict with obsevance
of shabbos.  The level of basketball is higher.  I've heard that, after
school, he gets private lessons so as to still engage in Jewish study.

-- Eric

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Date: Wed, 5 Jan 2000 10:28:34 -0500
From: moti silberstein <moti2@juno.com>
Re: Avodah V4 #254


Date: Tue, 4 Jan 2000 21:39:54 EST
From: DFinchPC@aol.com
Subject: Re: Registry of "Who is a Jew"

Why wouldn't the Chiloni register and then go back to their Chiloni 
lifestyles? Just as a piece of harmless insurance?

Simple,because hate goes beyond common sense.Tell me does it make sense
to hate somone because he  dresses diffrently and has a diffrent  life

 Also I think that having this is the only way  because 50 years down the
we would not know who is a kosher jew or not and we would intermarry by
mistake causing alot more damage then  when you would exclude ALL the
Conservative and Reform.BUT a major problem is the people who do not know
they are jewish.They make a quarter of the population and they may be for
sure lost about mosdhiach comes.


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Date: Wed, 5 Jan 2000 11:14:38 -0500
From: richard_wolpoe@ibi.com
Re[2]: value of shas

A Few rambles on this 

1) What about Tosefta, Mechilto, Sifro, and Sifrei?  What is there relative 

2) Does your definition of Shas include yerushalmi?

some more rambles:

1) If TB were the definitve be-all adn end-all, how come so many masechtos are 
omitted from the original 63 found in the mishna, eg most of Zeroim, most of 

2) And as we know that while TY has zeroim and TB does not - what does that say 
about the Seder halimud in Bovel?  

3) if Shas is the totality of TSBP, what was the Rambam's hava amino to dispense
with it and to replace it with Mishneh Torah?

4) And what prompted the Rif to author a Sefer as he did?  Given Shas as the 
ikkar halimud, isn't his Halahcos quite a redundant way of getting to his psak?

5) If BY held that learning Shas is indispnseible - what prompted him to quote 
shas and Rashi ad loc. instead of merely referring to Shas?  

Rich Wolpoe

______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: Re: value of shas 
Author:  <avodah@aishdas.org> at tcpgate
Date:    12/30/1999 6:11 PM

<< ate: Thu, 30 Dec 1999 12:20:50 PST
 From: "Alan Davidson" <perzvi@hotmail.com> 
 Subject: Academic Scholarship among Orthodox Jews

 Richard: If you talk to yeshiva drop-outs the over-emphasis on shas (versus 
 learning other equally valuable seforim) is one of their main criticisms of 
 the yeshiva system -- (it also gives some validity to the early chassidishe 
 derechs which also pushed shas to the background).
 _____ >>

I do not believe that traditional Orthodox Judaism accepts any other seforim, 
besides the 24 sifrei kodesh, to be "equally valuable" to shas.

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Date: Wed, 5 Jan 2000 11:24:41 -0500
From: richard_wolpoe@ibi.com
Re: Derech Halimud - & Rabbeinu Tam

Permit a historical perspective

In RT's time, TB was not yet the all-inclusive limud in Ashkenaz it is today.  
Rashi and Tosfos sought to make TB the IKKAR limud (and they succeeded!).

Today, TB is established and thriving. I don't see exceptional cases as being 
athreat to TB's pre-emincne anymore.

Anecdote:  One of my Day School Teachers was a Hebraicist and "hated" Yiddish.
Then one day I overheard him talking Yiddish to a colleague.  Flabbergasted, I 
asked him what he was doing, after all leshitoso Yiddish was, well, inferior.  
He replied that once Israel was founded with Hebrew as the official language, 
Hebrew was no longer threatend as the primary language, and it was ok to indulge
in Yiddish, etc.

Similarly, TB was by no means universally accepted in the time and place of RT.
Now it is.  And now - imho - we can be a bit more flexible.  TB is so 
overwhelmingly popular, it is time to perhaps swing the pendulum back a bit and 
to offer other options.

I don't think any one on this list questions the primacy of TB, the question is 
a matter of degree and flexibility.  RT might have had a different agenda in 

Rich Wolpoe

______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: Derech Halimud 
<snip> While studying according to Rabbenu Tam's prescription will 
certainly fulfill mishna and gemara, it not an appealing way of studying 
mikra, and you will not spend a third of your time on the mikra component 
unless you make a determined effort to understand the principals and 
techniques used by chazal in deriving their limudim from phrases in 
Tanach.  Second, the daf yomi approach appears to be of value only for 
the discipline that it imposes on the participants, and the good feeling 
engendered by finishing so many volumes of shas in expeditious fashion.  
I haven't really seen people come away with a good or lasting knowledge 
of the material covered.  Nor does one fulfill the iyun part of the study 
requirement.  But someone who has gone through shas in this way may be in 
a better position than I to evaluate its yediot benefit.


Yitzchok Zlochower

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Date: Wed, 5 Jan 2000 11:32:40 -0500 (EST)
From: Sammy Ominsky <sambo@charm.net>
Re: Sports

Eric Simon wrote:

> To set some facts straight:
> of shabbos.  The level of basketball is higher.  I've heard that, after
> school, he gets private lessons so as to still engage in Jewish study.

Thank you very much. I guess I should try to keep up on things a little
better, eh?

not paying enough attention to sports

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Date: Wed, 5 Jan 100 18:49:07 +0200 ("IST)
From: Eli Turkel <turkel@math.tau.ac.il>
Registry of Jews

> Also, I suspect civil marriage in Israel may be inevitable - that's 
> where this whole fight is really leading (for those of you in chu"l 
> who are now totally confused - in Israel all matters of "personal 
> status," i.e. marriage, divorce, burial and so on, are governed by 
> the religious court of your religion. Thus a Jew cannot legally marry 
> in Israel except through the Rabbinate. Many secular Israelis avoid 
> the Rabbinate by travelling to Cyprus to marry - about an hour 
> away by plane - or by marrying in Paraguay via proxy. You then 
> take your marriage certificate to the Foreign Ministry and you are 
> considered legally married).

First of all in some circles an informal checking already exists.
I once got involved in a shidduch check between the daughter of a 
relative and a fellow professor. My relative wanted to know all sorts
of information about the grandparents of the boy who was the top boy
in his yeshiva. After I supplied information about where the grandparents
davened in Europe my relative came back that they checked with someone
else who davened in that shul in germany and they dont remember any
family of that name could I please check it further, When I rechecked
I was told that if they are not too be trusted then they are not interested
in the shidduch.
p.s. the boy got another wonderful shidduch and is today one of the top
of the younger generation in Mir.

One of the main problems with an independent registry is who will run it.
I can forsee a yeshive regisrty, a chaddishe registry (or maybe several),
a MO registry, a sefardi registry etc. each with a different posek deciding
who is to be entered.

As shown by the above stort the bet din will have to decide on criteria for
this registry. That implies more than the chiloni going to (each) registry and
registering. rather he will have to start bringing proofs about each grandparent
or maybe further back. This will be more difficult for immigrants who may
not have good records. I assume the bet din will not accept someone's word
that there where no conversions in the family.
As other people have mentioned the major difference from Bet Hillel and Bet
Shamai is that in the days of the Temple these records were automatically
kept by everyone.
In fact the gemara mentions towns that were avoided because of the prevalence
of mamzerim. In fact Babylonians looked down on the yichus of Eretz Yisrael
Jews and sometimes refused to marry descendants of famous rabbis.
This is in sharp contrast to the days of the Tanaim when converts and their
descendants were readily accepted.

Finally, one of the main objections to civil marriages is that it will
separate the people into two groups. If a registry would be set up then it
would open up the door for civil marriages.

Eli Turkel

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Date: Wed, 5 Jan 2000 12:18:48 -0500
From: richard_wolpoe@ibi.com
Re[2]: YU is a Litvishe yeshiva in the mold of Volozhin (?)

Q: Is anyone familiar with the history of the Tachkemoni Institute in Bialystok?

Rich Wolpoe 

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Date: Wed, 5 Jan 2000 09:46:07 -0800 (PST)
From: Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com>
Re: Registry of "Who is a Jew"

--- DFinchPC@aol.com wrote:
> In a message dated 1/4/00 9:16:42 PM US Central
> It's been
> said that the question 
> isn't Who Is a Jew, but rather Who Is a Rabbi.
> Conservative rabbis, in 
> particular, are sensitive about the notion that
> their practices might not be 
> entirely Jewish. 

It's also, been said there are no Conservative Jews
just Conservative Rabbis.  As you point out, most
Conservative Jews don't even understand that there is
a movement. They don't know it's philosophy and, at
best, just think it is a more modern expression of
Judaism. Going into the reasons for this phenomenon is
beyond the scope of this post.  I think. But, suffice
it to say that, at least in terms of spreading the
"MESSAGE" to their flock, they have failed and thus
the movement has failed.  Why? Again I think it is
beyond the scope of this post.


> I don't know if their non-activist
> congregants care as much. 
> I'd think that in the Chicago area, for instance, a
> modern Orthodox 
> north-suburban rabbi could do a nice business
> handling conversions within the 
> Conservative community, because his work carries a
> guarantee. Conservative 
> conversions do not, at least not necessarily in
> Israel. (From years of 
> personal observation, I could testify that most
> members of Conservative 
> congregations are, frankly, unaware that there is
> such a thing as a 
> Conservative "movement," although they might hear
> their rabbis refer to such 
> a  movement during sermons given Rosh Hashana and
> Yom Kippur, when these 
> members are known to go to shul.)
> David Finch

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Date: Wed, 5 Jan 2000 12:05:50 -0600
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Derech Halimud - & Rabbeinu Tam

On Wed, Jan 05, 2000 at 11:24:41AM -0500, richard_wolpoe@ibi.com wrote:
: Permit a historical perspective
: In RT's time, TB was not yet the all-inclusive limud in Ashkenaz it is today.  

Then why does Rabbeinu Tam (I assume that's the RT here) need to justify the
common practice of not dividing learning into thirds, and focussing only on
Shas? It would appear that some community of another -- or was it an inovation
of the Ba'alei Tosafos themselves? -- did make it an all-inclusive limud.


Micha Berger (973) 916-0287          MMG"H for  5-Jan-00: Revi'i, Vaera
micha@aishdas.org                                         A"H 
http://www.aishdas.org                                    Pisachim 94b
For a mitzvah is a lamp, and the Torah its light.         Melachim-II 11

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Date: Wed, 5 Jan 2000 10:12:32 -0800 (PST)
From: Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com>
Re: Registry of "Who is a Jew"

--- j e rosenbaum <jerosenb@hcs.harvard.edu> wrote:
> if they could promise to be (orthodoxly) observant
> in the first place, 
> why would they be converting to reform or
> conservative?  

Someone who would want to convert to Reform Judaism
and still be orthodoxly observant would have to be a
moron. (No insult intented to morons). They believe
that Halacha is NOT binding. Although there is
presently a big fight within the Reform movement to
accept Jewish ritual (Mitzvos).

The real question is with the Conservative movement. 
They claim to be Halachists.  The degree of Mitzvah
observance amongst them runs the entire spectrum of
virtually complete observance to almost none. The big
problem with the Conservative movement is it's
theological basis. Without getting into details,
Orthodoxy considers the Conservative movement's
beliefs to be heretical.  The most extreme example opf
this is the Reconstructionist Movement (a branch
within the Conservative movement). The
Reconstructionists do NOT believe in G-d.  They
believe G-d is not an external G-d but an
internal/personal one, or some such nonsense.  Yet
theirs is accepted as legitimate thought within their
Halachic framework.  How ridiculous is that!! So, by
proclaiming themselves loyal to the Torah they argue
that they are just interperating the Torah differently
then we are.(But of course so do the Christians.) The
argument that they are Halachists rings true to an
innocent member of the movement who doesn't know
diddly (sp?) about his own movement. They just trust
in the Rabbi.  

Bearing all of this in mind, it's a little more
understandable why a potential convert who would want
to keep all the mitzvos of the Torah might be as
attracted to the Conservative as the Orthodox since
such a person might not be sophisticated enough to
know the difference.

This, also, IMHO, is what makes the Conservative
movement so dangerous.

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