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Volume 26: Number 44

Mon, 02 Mar 2009

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Yitzchok Levine <Larry.Lev...@stevens.edu>
Date: Sun, 01 Mar 2009 05:51:51 -0500
[Avodah] Summary of the Entire History of Second Temple Era

The following is from pages 400 - 401 of the essay Adar IV that 
appears in Volume II of the Collected Writings of RSRH.

If we were to summarize the entire history of the era of the Second
Temple in terms of one single thought, we would surely view it as a
preparatory period for the great migration through the ages that lay in
store for Israel. In these wanderings, Israel would find itself among
many nations of many different kinds, but the lives of none of these
nations would be compatible with the ideals of Judaism. In the midst
of these nations, Israel would have to preserve its unique individuality.
Beneath the eye of its alien overlords, and in its relations with the
subjects of these mighty rulers, Israel was expected to refuse to bow to
the gods of the nations. It was to translate into consummate reality, to
the greatest extent possible, the full abundance of God's Law, thus
demonstrating, to the amazement of the rest of the world, the awesome
sustaining power of this Law. It seems that the entire era of the Second
Temple was intended to prepare the Jews to maintain such independence
in the midst of a life that conflicted sharply with their ideals. The
political independence that had been granted them at that time was
limited from the outset. It was only an act of homage from Cyrus, King
of Persia, to the God of Israel, a gesture which was splendid, to
be sure, penetrating even the remotest future, but which Ezra from the
very beginning interpreted in these words: "And now, for a moment,
we were shown grace from our God) to leave us a remnant, to give us
a stake in the place of His Sanctuary, to enlighten our eyes and to grant
us some measure of independence in our bondage. For we are still
bondsmen and even in our  bondage we have not forsaken our God" (Ezra 9, 8-9).
Tiny Judea confronted them all, one after the other, the powerful civilized
empires that moved across the stage of world history in the course of those
centuries: the Persians, the Greeks, the Syrians, the Egyptians and 
the Romans.
In most instances Judea was dependent on these nations, but there were times
when it met them as their equal and their ally. Regardless of their 
with these alien empires, the Jews were to learn to remain Jews even 
among strangers.  
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Message: 2
From: "SBA" <s...@sba2.com>
Date: Mon, 2 Mar 2009 15:42:41 +1100
[Avodah] : Minhagei Belz for Talleisim

From: Mike Miller 
Does anyone know what different minhagim Belz have from "standard"

Almost every chasidus has their 'quirks' and minhogim. Belz is no different,
though they seem to have more than average.


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Message: 3
From: Yitzchok Levine <Larry.Lev...@stevens.edu>
Date: Sun, 01 Mar 2009 09:55:12 -0500
[Avodah] Knowledge of the Law is not enough

The following is from RSRH's essay Adar IV that appears in Volume II 
of the Collected Writings of RSRH. I have posted the entire essay at 
http://www.stevens.edu/golem/llevine/rsrh/collected_writings.html  YL

Knowledge of the Law alone is not enough to gain Paradise in the 
world to come; if that Paradise is to be won and the earth is also to 
be transformed into a Paradise, this Law must be not only known but 
also observed. And there remains a very wide gap between the 
knowledge of the Law in theory and its observance in practice. True, 
the precept is a lamp and the Teaching is the light that shows us the 
way to Olom Habah, the way to Paradise on earth and Paradise beyond, 
the way to the Tree of Eternal Life. But upon this same path there is 
also the deceiving Tree of Knowledge; there is the serpent which 
tempts you:  "Why do you need instructions from Above to teach you 
what is good  what is evil? Open your eyes and see what is good to 
eat and a delight for the eyes and the mind! All that is pleasant is 
good, and whatever is repugnant to your mind and to your senses is 
evil. Sensuality is Divine, and your discriminating intelligence was 
given you from Above!" And so, even though man may hold the lamp of 
God in hands and the light of God may shine before his eyes, he might 
walk upon the path of sin and sell his Paradise on earth and in 
heaven the fleeting pleasures of the moment-unless God's fatherly 
chastisement, in the form of pain and suffering, will be there to 
warn him against the temptings of the serpent. Ultimately, in his 
struggle against his afflictions, his better self will rise again and 
will guide him back to the path that leads to the Tree of Life. 
Indeed, that is why God has placed the warning and ever-changing 
flaming sword of affliction  alongside the cherubim of His Torah and 
mitzvoth in order to guard for man the path to the Tree of Life Thus, 
even as the lamp of God's precept and the light of His Teaching show 
man the path which he should choose, the sufferings ordained for him 
by Divine Providence to test and to train him will guide him, 
cleansed and uplifted, so that he will indeed walk upon that path.

This is the noble meaning of suffering in the life of every man. Each 
one of us is like a world history in miniature reflecting the 
cleansing and chastening
guidance of Divine Providence. For each and every one of us, every 
v'y'he, every gift that has come to him as a truly permanent gift was 
always the product of
a past filled with trials and sorrows. Rarely have we been permitted 
to remain in possession of gifts that fell to us without pain and 
sacrifice, without trouble
and toil, destined to prepare us to become worthy of that gift. But 
that which man has acquired through pain and sacrifice, for which he 
has risked his very life,
can be compared to plants imbedded in soil that was thoroughly turned 
over before receiving the seed, and it will be inextricably bound up 
with every drop of
his blood, every impulse of his nerves. It will be rooted deeply 
within man and become his most personal possession.
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Message: 4
From: Zev Sero <z...@sero.name>
Date: Sun, 01 Mar 2009 10:05:11 -0500
[Avodah] Anshei Knesset Hagedolah

Marty Bluke wrote:
> In truth, Mordechai was a member of the Anshei Knesset Hagedola
> however that doesn't help us for 2 reasons:
> 1. The Anshei Knesset Hagedola did not yet exist at the time of Purim,
> it was only created after the second beis hamikdash was built

This brings up something that I've long wondered about.  Was the
"Anshei Knesset Hagedolah" some sort of standing body in that generation,
a sort of super-sanhedrin that didn't survive as an institution for lack
of people suitable to sit on it?  Or was there one "Knesset Hagedolah"
a convention of relatively short duration (up to several years, perhaps),
like lehavdil the Philadelphia Convention that wrote the USA constitution,
and the people who attended it were the "anshei Knesset Hagedolah"?

In which case the quoted text should read "Mordechai was one of the
anshei Knesset Hagedola....The Knesset Hagedola hadn't yet happened..."

Zev Sero                      The trouble with socialism is that you
z...@sero.name                 eventually run out of other people?s money
                                                     - Margaret Thatcher

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Message: 5
From: Shlomo Pick <pic...@mail.biu.ac.il>
Date: Mon, 02 Mar 2009 00:04:25 +0200
[Avodah] bnei israel between matan torah and chet haegel

Cantor Wolber wrote the following
>We are taught:
>Following Mattan Torah, and before the sin of the egel hazahav, the  
Jewish people were on the level of tzaddikim. Then they committed the  
sin of the Golden Calf. My question is:
>If they were truly righteous (which is what tzaddikim means), then how  
could they have even considered committing such an egregious sin? If  
you want to tell me that even tzaddikim sin, then we have a  
contradiction of terms. Either they were not tzaddikim or the egel  
hazahav was really not a sin in its context. And how can that be when  
the Torah depicts it as a sin worthy of chayav missa.

Following the Ramban, jewish history is cyclical starting with adam harishon
who was a zaddik and free will, but sinned with the eitz hada'at. At matan
torah, the bnei yisrael returned to the matzav of adam harishon before the
cheit.  With the egel they returned to the situation of after the cheit.
With the messianic age, we will return again to the matzav of adam harishon
before the chet.

Concerning another thread mentioned earlier, I heard from my rebbe, Rav
Yerucham Gorelik zt"l, that malachim have free will, but they know to choose
well, but theoretically they can choose not well also, and that accounts for
"fallen angels" at the end of parashat breishis, or the angels by Lot who
had to stay on earth until jacob's dream.  Accordingly, Adam haRishon before
the cheit was like an angel in that sense. Once he sinned, he became more
human than angel like.  
One should note that according to the midrashim quoted by rashi on parashat
breishis, the earth had free choice in producing fruit tasting bark, or type
of grasses, or even accepting the blood of Hevel (Abel).  So free will is
something more complex vis a vis the subject/object having it.
Shlomo Pick

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Message: 6
From: Yitzchok Levine <Larry.Lev...@stevens.edu>
Date: Mon, 02 Mar 2009 08:24:13 -0500
[Avodah] The Torah and the Natural Way of the World

The following is from the article with the above title that is at 

Without the principle of derekh erets kademah leTorah, we would not 
be able to function properly in the Bet Midrash. We would not be able 
to make rulings on the laws of how people should dress. It would be 
impossible to rule on monetary cases if we did not have the 
principles of natural ownership according to the guidelines of 
society; it would be impossible to delineate the forbidden labors on 
Shabbat if we did not first understand the natural workings of the 
world. We would be obligated to devote the entire governmental budget 
to healthcare to save lives, and we would be unable to arrange the 
government's budget in the normal way governments arrange their 
budgets. The Torah itself indicates, when it discusses monarchy in 
Israel, the learning from the natural order of the world among the 
nations, "as all the nations around us." My argument is that although 
only some of the posekim (rabbinic decisors) have written directly on 
this topic, in fact all of the posekim throughout the Responsa 
literature base themselves in a permanent and fixed way on the 
foundation of the world and the natural way of life. The "news" of 
the Torah is not in the denial of this principle, but in adopting it, 
strengthening it, limiting it, sanctifying it, purifying it, and 
giving it boundaries.

Please see the above URL for the entire article.

Yitzchok Levine 
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Message: 7
From: Yitzhak Grossman <cele...@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 2 Mar 2009 09:08:05 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Who wrote Megillas Esther?

The Megillah was originally a part of the Persian archives, which is why
it does not contain any mention of the Divine Name.  Although at the
behest of Esther it was subsequently edited by the men of the Great
Assembly, inspired by the Holy Spirit (as is the case elsewhere in
Scriptures), it retains its original secular character:


[I am aware of other perspectives on the matter.]

Bein Din Ledin - http://bdl.freehostia.com
A discussion of Hoshen Mishpat, Even Ha'Ezer and other matters

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Message: 8
From: Eli Turkel <elitur...@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 2 Mar 2009 17:03:56 +0200
[Avodah] women reading megillah for men

ROY paskens a woman can read the megillah for men bideved
(ie no men available)


Eli Turkel

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Message: 9
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Mon, 2 Mar 2009 15:05:48 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Anshei Knesset Hagedolah

On Sun, Mar 01, 2009 at 10:05:11AM -0500, Zev Sero wrote:
: This brings up something that I've long wondered about.  Was the
: "Anshei Knesset Hagedolah" some sort of standing body in that generation,
: a sort of super-sanhedrin that didn't survive as an institution for lack
: of people suitable to sit on it? ...

Recall R Shimon Schwab's (retracted) notion that AKhG removed 168 years
from their own duration in setting out the current dating system. This
was his means of explaining Persian and Greek histories (which also cite
astronomical events we can accurately date) in comparison to Seder Olam.
Regardless of the merits of the idea itself, RSS takes it as a given
that AKhG was multi-generational.

It spanned from seifer Nechemiah to Shim'on haTzadiq (who met Alxander
the Great), so I think that's at least two generations.

But nothing during that period can be dated without a question mark.
Including Purim.

I think beis din hagadol got this major title with the return form Bavel
when it had to restore Judaism. And it lost the title when the last of the
nevi'im died, thus making it impossible to pass divrei soferim anymore.
But that's just personal guesswork.

BTW, "Sanhedrin" is from the Greek "synedrion" (transliteration mine)
which means "sitting together". IOW, "kenesses".

Getting back to the original topic, I would set Purim as a side-battle
in Persia's general internal strife between the polytheists and the
rise of Zoroastrianism. Many of the early "Zoroastrian" rulers accepted
Zoroaster's teachings except for the bit about rejecting the old gods.
Xerxes among them.

Achashveirosh, being a throwback to paganism, raises a pagan priest to
center stage. He had to, he was a commoner who needed to build a support
base for his ascendency to the throne. Haman has a thing for monotheists,
so he attacks the Jews -- but from the Persian historical perspective,
it's part of his attack on Zoroastrianism.

Herodotus refers to the Zoroastrians as a sixth tribe of Medes, so the
struggle would seem to figure into the unification of Paras uMadai.
Thus explaining the shift from Daniel's "Madei uParas" to Esther's
"Paras uMadai". Under Achashveirosh, Persian thought was ascendent.

Koreish is clearly Zoroastrian, of the two-gods variety, thus
necessitating Yeshaiah's nevu'ah that light and dark (very Zoroastrian)
and peace and evil all come from One HQBH.

When I posted this on Avodah two years ago, Lisa Liel quoted me and
>> ..., I see that Lisa [Liel] carries an article on her web site ...
>> explaining the idea besheim Dr Chaim S Heifetz in more solid terms,
>> as a battle between Mithrism and Zoroastranism....

> Actually, Dr. Heifetz's source for this is a book by Jacob Hoschander,
> published in 1923, entitled _The Book of Esther in the Light of History_.
> Hoschander's thesis was that the events of Esther took place during the
> reign of Artaxerxes II Mnemon, and happened in the context of a conflict
> between monotheistic Zoroastrians and polytheistic Mithra worshippers.
> As a bible critic, Hoschander simply labeled our version of the Megillah
> inaccurate with regards to the king having been named Ahasuerus (Xerxes),
> but he brings a huge amount of source material to support the historical
> basis for the religious conflict in the Megillah.

> Dr. Heifetz used this as an important building block in his revision
> of Persian history....

Which means I could well be on the right track, if you think any
revisionism should be given credance.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             It is a glorious thing to be indifferent to
mi...@aishdas.org        suffering, but only to one's own suffering.
http://www.aishdas.org                 -Robert Lynd, writer (1879-1949)
Fax: (270) 514-1507

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Message: 10
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Mon, 2 Mar 2009 15:31:55 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Original Sin

On Thu, Feb 26, 2009 at 09:24:22AM -0500, Zev Sero wrote:
: AIUI, and as I've explained it to Xians, we believe that the Fall
: affected only the body and not the soul.  As a result of the Fall, the
: body is subject to suffering, decay, and ultimately death; that is
: undeniable.  But the "neshama shenatata bi tehora hi"; the neshama is
: not Fallen, and comes into the world needing no salvation, other than
: whatever private cheshbon it accumulated in previous incarnations.
: Therefore we are not born into a sort of spiritual peonage, and have no
: need for a Saviour...

REED writes that what the cheit did was cause an internalization of the
yeitzer hara. Whereas before Adam naturally did what was right, and his
bechirah was in assessing what was truly right, now he had taavos for
other goals.

This is an issue beyond the guf.

My take from the REED's essay on the 4 olamos that the cheit lowered
man's perception, internalizing the yeitzer hara.

The Gra writes (Havayah veHasagah cheileq 2) that before the cheit,
Adam's olam ha'asiyah is the world we now call olam ha'yetzirah. Rav
Dessler notes that this makes them sound like levels that a person can
be on. Why are they called olamos, words?

He answers this using the Alter of Kelm's maxim about how the tailor sees
a crowd as a see of suits, and a shoemaker, by their shoes. He speaks
of a phenomology; the "real world" is the world as it appears to us. And
therefore Adam qodem lacheit had a different "real world" than we do.

Li nir'eh, the two tie together with REED's idea of nequdas habechirah. We
are only aware of a small subset of the decisions we make. Our spotlight
of consciousness is defined by where the battlefront lies between YhR
and YhT. But conscious awareness is also what defines which olam one
lives in.

What I would say is that whle the Notzri "original sin" meant that
the soul is incapable of redemption, we believe "neshamah shenasati bi
tehorah hi", even belashon hoveh. Rather, our awareness (ruach?) is no
longer exclusively coupled to it. We therefore have a nequdas habechirah
that sees a pettier world, and can make pettier decisions.

Along similar lines, the Alter of Slabodka noted that Hashem rewards
every mitzvah and punishes every cheit. Meaning, that despite the eigel,
we still are the people of maamad Har Sinai. By adding evil, one now has
a more complicated mixture. But the good is still in there.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             It's nice to be smart,
mi...@aishdas.org        but it's smarter to be nice.
http://www.aishdas.org                   - R' Lazer Brody
Fax: (270) 514-1507

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Message: 11
From: Simon Montagu <simon.mont...@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 2 Mar 2009 20:59:18 +0200
Re: [Avodah] women reading megillah for men

On Mon, Mar 2, 2009 at 5:03 PM, Eli Turkel <elitur...@gmail.com> wrote:

> ROY paskens a woman can read the megillah for men bideved
> (ie no men available)
> http://haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1067910.html
"Bish`at hadehhak" rather than bideved. This psak appeared over 20 years
ago, I'm not sure why it has suddenly hit the press now. I suppose now that
ROY's weekly derashot are on the internet, journalists watch them in the
hope of hearing something they can sensationalize.
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Message: 12
From: rabbirichwol...@gmail.com
Date: Sun, 1 Mar 2009 17:06:25 +0000
Re: [Avodah] Who wrote Megillas Esther?

Marty Bluke:
> In truth, Mordechai was a member of the Anshei Knesset Hagedola
> however that doesn't help us for 2 reasons:
> 1. The Anshei Knesset Hagedola did not yet exist at the time of Purim,
> it was only created after the second beis Hamikdash

Contrary to seder olam, modern historians have identified achashveirosh
with Xerxes the great.

This means that the 2nd beis hamikdash was standing already.

My friend, historian Mitchell First, has nailed this and he will be
lecutring tonight beh in Teaneck.

One of the nice purim co-incidences only HKBH coud engineer is that GF
Handel wrote an opera on Judaeus Maccabeus and unwittingly did a Purim
shpiel* titled Serse (Xerxes) whose largo remains one of the claasic
arias of the last 3 centuries.

*) FWIW Serse was a spoof on king xerxes and actually kinda reflects
hazal's opiniomn that achashveirosh was a fool

So OTOH modern scholarship makes a big kasha on Hazal's dating system
it gives back a few points showing that there WAS an Achashveirosh in
history and that his story maps out well to the Megillah itself.

Note the multi-year gaps in the megilla. These map out with Xerxes
absences in Persia due to battling the Greeks.

Eg Ahachshveirosh was concerned with assassinations. AIUI the real life
Xerxes was assassinated!

Freilichen Purim
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

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Message: 13
From: rabbirichwol...@gmail.com
Date: Mon, 2 Mar 2009 19:49:38 +0000
Re: [Avodah] women reading megillah for men

ROY paskens a woman can read the megillah for men bideved
(ie no men available)"

Anybody know ROYS position re: women reading for other women(e.g. Stern
College)? Does he hold lechatchila or not?

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

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Message: 14
From: Esther and Aryeh Frimer <frim...@zahav.net.il>
Date: Mon, 02 Mar 2009 23:52:30 +0200
Re: [Avodah] women reading megillah for men

    It should be made clear that there is absolutely nothing new in Rav
    Ovadiah Yosef's recent pronouncement and he has been saying this for
    years. He maintains that the mehaber in OH 689:1 holds that women are
    obligated equally with men and hence can be motsi them. In 689:2, the
    Mehaber brings a dissenting view that women cannot be motsi men.
    However, the Halakha says Rav Ovadiah is like the first opinion, but
    becauise of the dissenting view, one should be Mahmir leHatkhilla. This
    is the Psak for Sefaradim ONLY!

    The Rema in 689:2  rules like the Behag that women cannot be motsi men. That is Ashkenazic Pesak.

    Regarding women's Megilla readings for women R. Ovadiah Yosef, Yabia
    Omer, VIII, O.H., sec. 56, end of no. 4 writes: ?...the custom of women
    who make a minyan by themselves for mikra Megilla...should be
    encouraged.? Thus, he holds this is leKhatehilla. Indeed, his son R.
    David Yosef, Torat ha-Moadim: Hilkhot u-Minhagei Purim ve-Hodesh Adar,
    sec. 5., note 9, p. 139, s.v ve-ha-Rema, indicates that despite the
    rulings of Magen Avraham and Korban Netanel, Ashkenazi (and certainly
    Sefardi) women can read for women. For more on this subject, see: 
    ?Women?s Megillah Reading,? Aryeh A. Frimer, In ?Traditions and
    Celebrations for the Bat Mitzvah,? Ora Wiskind Elper, Editor; Urim
    Publications: Jerusalem, 2003; pp. 281-304. Word file available at: http://www.matan.org.il/Data/UploadedFiles/Free/bm_Frimer_eng_101
    .doc; PDF file available online at: ht
    tp://www.mail-jewish.org/Women%27sMegillaReadingArticle.pdf; HTML
    files available at http://www.l
 ding.htm; http://www.daat.ac.il/daat/english/tfila/frimer2.htm. 

    RO Yosef is also quoted in this shiur as permitting one to read from a
    Megilla written by a woman. There is nothing new here either and this
    has been his public position since 1983. See: Yabi`a Omer 8, Orah
    Hayyim #55, starting from the middle of sec. 3.

Kol Tuv

    Aryeh (from home)

Dr. Aryeh A. Frimer
Ethel and David Resnick Professor
   of Active Oxygen Chemistry
Chemistry Dept., Bar-Ilan University
Ramat Gan 52900, ISRAEL
E-mail: Fri...@mail.biu.ac.il
Tel: 972-3-5318610; Fax: 972-3-7384053
Tel Home: 972-8-9473819/9470834
Cellphone: 972-54-7540761


----- Original Message ----- 
  From: rabbirichwol...@gmail.com 
  To: Frimer Aryeh ; Micha Berger 
  Sent: Monday, March 02, 2009 9:49 PM
  Subject: Re: [Avodah] women reading megillah for men

  ROY paskens a woman can read the megillah for men bideved
  (ie no men available)"

  Anybody know ROYS position re: women reading for other women(e.g. Stern College)?  Does he hold  lechatchila or not?

  Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile
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Message: 15
From: Simon Montagu <simon.mont...@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 2 Mar 2009 13:01:04 -0800
Re: [Avodah] women reading megillah for men

On Mon, Mar 2, 2009 at 11:49 AM, <rabbirichwol...@gmail.com> wrote:

> ROY paskens a woman can read the megillah for men bideved
> (ie no men available)"
> Anybody know ROYS position re: women reading for other women(e.g. Stern
> College)? Does he hold lechatchila or not?

This is the text in "Yalkut Yosef", compiled by ROY's son R. Yitzhak Yosef:

?"? ???"? ?????? ?????? ????? ?????, ???? ??????? ?? ?????? ??? ?????. ???
?????? ??????? ?????? ?????? ?????? ?? ?????? ??? ????. ???"? ?????? ????
??????, ???? ???? ????? ??????, ??? ?? ?? ???? ????.

I would say that that implies that women for women is no problem.
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