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Volume 16 : Number 036

Tuesday, November 22 2005

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Mon, 21 Nov 2005 11:08:42 +0200
From: Moshe Feldman <moshe.feldman@gmail.com>
Rabbi Broyde on Thanksgiving


This seems to be more or less the same as his article in the RJJ Journal,
vol. XXX. The chief difference is in his conclusion: in the RJJ Journal
he just presents the three views as being essentially equal, while in
his "Torah from Dixie" article, he expresses his own preference for Rav
Soloveitchik's view: "For reasons related to citizenship and the gratitude
we feel towards the United States government, I would even suggest that
such conduct is wise and proper." (I would not be surprised if the
RJJ format discouraged Rabbi Broyde from expressing a personal view.)
I wonder whether, in the aftermath of 9-11, people are more likely to
celebrate Thanksgiving.

Here, in Israel, many Americans make a Thanksgiving dinner as a way
of celebrating their American origins. I wonder whether, given the
lack of need for patriotism by olim toward the American gov't, a posek
might be more likely to advise against such celebrations (and, perhaps,
encourage a July 4th picnic instead).

Kol tuv,

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Date: Mon, 21 Nov 2005 15:09:36 -0600
From: "brent kaufman" <fallingstar613@hotmail.com>

> 2. The mohel makes the b'racha lamul es hageirim - Is there a mitzvah
> to convert nonJews, who does it fall on?

I think that it means that once the person is in the process of
conversion and guided by the proper authorities, it is a mitzvah to
follow the halachic process. Therefore, a mohel is doing a mitzvah by
following Hilchos Geirus when the occassion arises.


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Date: Mon, 21 Nov 2005 22:45:50 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Geirut

On Fri, Nov 18, 2005 at 02:04:00PM -0500, Zev Sero wrote:
: "Gito veyado ba'in ke'echad", so to speak. As he immerses himself he
: becomes obligated in all the mitzvot, including the mitzvah that a ger
: must immerse himself; so he must make a bracha.

See <http://www.aishdas.org/avodah/vol06/v06n121.shtml#07> by R' Ralph
Frankel (here's a teaser):
> According to Rav Amiel, which I believe is amita shel torah, usually
> when halacha requires a cause and effect (or a sibah and mesovev)
> it is required that they occur synchronously - they cannot occur
> simultaneously. For example...
> However, sometimes there is a circumstance that prevents a kinyan from
> occurring (a davar ha-moneah). The eved normally has a yad and should be
> able to acquire things for himself - what prevents this from occurring
> is the klal - mah sh-kana eved kanah rabbo...                Rather, he
> removes the davar ha-moneah and takes away his (the adon's) ability of
> acquiring on his servant's behalf. The klal of gito ve-yado teaches us
> that the removal of the davar ha-moneah CAN occur simultaneously to the
> event that removes it....


Micha Berger                 Time flies...
micha@aishdas.org                    ... but you're the pilot.
http://www.aishdas.org                       - R' Zelig Pliskin
Fax: (270) 514-1507      

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Date: Mon, 21 Nov 2005 17:09:12 EST
From: Yzkd@aol.com
Re: disagreeing with rishonim - haskafa

In a message dated 11/21/2005 3:50:16pm EST, rivkyc@sympatico.ca writes:
> This may sound like pure hisnatzlus but the Ramban didn't mean it! I
> have a source. Here goes...

See also Sdei Chemed Kuntres haKlolim Mareches haAlph Ois 150, and Pa'as
haSodeh Mareches haAleph Klolim ois 70, if anyome is interested I can
send pdf of above 2 pages.

Kol Tuv,
Yitzchok Zirkind

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Date: Mon, 21 Nov 2005 17:29:03 EST
From: Yzkd@aol.com
Re: Why 2 angels?

In a message dated 11/21/2005 4:50:11am EST, doniels@gmail.com writes:
> Couldn't find anybody puzzled by this, including the meforshim to BM 86:

The Gur Aryei on Rashi Breishis 18:2 expalains that the one that went
to turn over Sdom could not go without the one who saved Lot therefore
he too went to Avrohom.

Kol Tuv,
Yitzchok Zirkind

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Date: Mon, 21 Nov 2005 18:04:28 -0500
From: Zev Sero <zev@sero.name>
Re: Torah Riddles

> Riddle:
> When is it permitted to say that you heard something from someone,
> even if in truth you haven't?

> Qualifier:
> Although giving a case of being "m'shaneh m'pneh hashalom" would
> technically answer the question; that is not the answer we're looking for.

The witnesses in a blasphemy case are permitted - and required - to
testify that they heard the defendant curse some poor guy by the name
of Yossi, even though in fact they heard nothing of the sort. For all
they know, Yossi is the defendant's best friend, and he would never say
anything bad about him. Only when the judges are about to vote for a
conviction do they ask the witnesses to repeat the defendant's exact
words, just in case it turns out that he really did curse Yossi, which
isn't a crime (unless Yossi is deaf or a judge). (I wonder what would
happen to witnesses who pulled a "prank" like that; after all, at no point
did they tell anything but the exact truth, so how can they be punished?)

Zev Sero

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Date: Mon, 21 Nov 2005 22:39:06 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Torah Riddles

On Sun, Nov 20, 2005 at 10:54:59PM -0500, Samuel Svarc wrote:
: Riddle:
: When is it permitted to say that you heard something from someone,
: even if in truth you haven't?

To get people to accept a devar Torah or pesaq that they wouldn't accept
if you said in the name of your real source.


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Date: Mon, 21 Nov 2005 22:37:14 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Names in English

On Thu, Nov 17, 2005 at 07:15:38PM -0500, Zev Sero wrote:
:> Is "G-d" a name?
:> In terms of spoken word, as in prayer, it's identical to the word for
:> deity, "god" with a lower case "g".

: I don't think etymology matters. The only question is what is the Name of
: the Creator, in the English language...

But in spoken English, "G-d" and "god" are identical. Just like "Lord"
and "lord". What makes one a name more than the other?

On the commute home, I had an answer I preferred to the ones already
posted. Articles. In English, proper names don't get one but nouns would
get an "a" , "an" or "the". Thus, "G-d said" vs. "The Lord said". It is
uniquely used like a name.


Micha Berger             "And you shall love H' your G-d with your whole
micha@aishdas.org        heart, your entire soul, and all you own."
http://www.aishdas.org   Love is not two who look at each other,
Fax: (270) 514-1507      It is two who look in the same direction.

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Date: Tue, 22 Nov 2005 01:10:47 GMT
From: "Elazar M. Teitz" <remt@juno.com>
re: Eliyahu not a kohein?

>>> But whence do you know that it was through *nevuah*? IMHO, Tosfos is
>>> mashmia not that way.

>> How else could he possibly know it?

> He had attained the level of being capable to revive the dead, like we
> see other people mentioned in Shas were capable of (the famous story on
> Purim...), and he knew he could to it.

If he had that ability, then why wasn't he obligated, for reasons of
pikuach nefesh, to bring back to life every dead person he could?


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Date: Mon, 21 Nov 2005 22:34:26 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Eliyahu was not a Cohen?

On Tue, Nov 15, 2005 at 09:10:28PM +0000, kennethgmiller@juno.com wrote:
: R' Micha Berger wrote <<< There is no actual issur in writing down
: TSBP. "Ee ata resha'i" means it's a bad idea, not assur.>>>

: Really? I'll accept that if others think so too, but it never sounded
: that way to me...

It sounded that way to me for two reasons: First, because as I continued,
it better fits the reisha ("devarim shebikhsav...")

Second, the norm would be "asur". Second would be "ein lekha reshus".
Here we're saying "you are not empowered". Same shoresh (probably) as
"reshus", but a conjugation that has more to do with authority (as in
"rashana" [ruler] or "rishayon Koreish hamelekh"). It's like the tanna
explictly avoids saying "prohibited" or "not permitted" and uses some
unique lashon to make a point.


Micha Berger             It is a glorious thing to be indifferent to
micha@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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Date: Mon, 21 Nov 2005 20:13:27 -0500
From: "Rivka S" <rivkas@thejnet.com>
TIDE and the Kesubah

REMT wrote 
> I often am asked to read the k'suba at weddings. When the chasan is a
> ben Torah, I am tempted to omit the phrase "amar la . . . va'ana eflach
> v'okir v'eizon va'afarnes yasichi lichi," knowing full well that such a
> statement was neither said nor intended, despite its being "hilchos guvrin
> y'huda'in." Chaza"l apparently did not expect "Torah only" behavior.

Don't you know the saying? HKB"h gave two kllalos - bezei'as apecha
tochal lechem to Adam, and be'etzev teldi bonim to Chavah. In Lakewood,
they get the ladies to assume both.

My husband was co-mesader with one of the venerable Roshei Yeshiva who,
by the choson's tish, explained each word to the Choson & made sure he
knew what he was giving the Kallah. My husband has adopted the practice.

However, speaking as a former Kollel (and current chinuch) wife, I don't
believe the men are shirking their responsibilities. Rather, the women
who aspire to have a husband who is a Talmid Chochom regard it as a
privilege to work in order to make that possible. Among normal people
(I don't say everyone is) the husband does take the achrayus that once
his wife can no longer juggle her family and job, he will take over,
at least in part. In fact, many men take some tutoring jobs or other
part-time work to pitch in. Certainly when the husband ends up taking
off so much time from learning to babysit, the whole setup is re-examined.
My husband never did - he said his job was more important than mine.

My son-in-law once asked my husband, "when you were in Kollel did you ever
feel like you were living on the brink (of insolvency, once assumes.)" My
husband's answer - "When I was in Kollel?" In other words, if one is
zocheh to be in Chinuch there's not much improvement in finances & most
wives still work at least some, especially if they wish to be zocheh to
a son-in-law a Talmid Chochom. (and if the kids are in Eretz Yisroel
the daughter's employment opportunities are very limited.)

Though today there may be many in Kollel because of "fashion" it should
not cause one to denigrate the sincere mesirus nefesh of many.

I don't know if this has been discussed (I tend to skim this thread rather
superficially as there's not much chance of my changing my position on
this issue at this point in my life) but if you need 1000 for one to
be yotzeh lehora'ah, how will you have dayanim & mechanchim of the next
generation if you discourage Kollel?

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Date: Tue, 22 Nov 2005 19:25:20 +0200
From: Ari Zivotofsky <zivotoa@mail.biu.ac.il>
Starting Shmona Esrah together with the Tzibur

I have been email-less for the greater part of the last two weeks and 
see that I missed 2 threads related to shmona esrei:
    - starting shmona esrei with the Tzibur
    - 6 davening and 4 answering

I discuss both (briefly) in this article:

comments welcome.

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Date: Mon, 21 Nov 2005 23:49:33 -0500
From: "Yosef Gavriel & Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <ygb@aishdas.org>

Arie Folger wrote:
>5) While I am in agreement with much of what RYGB wrote, I am puzzled
>by the trichotomy Haskalah/Reform/assimilation. I am right now writing a
>lecture that includes a section on Haskalah. Based on this and previous
>lectures I prepared on the topic, let me state that until Abraham Geiger
>appears, Reform and Haskalah are the handmaiden of emancipation coupled
>with assimilation. Reform was invented to serve assimilation. What RYGB
>wants to say is perhaps that Haskalah only really gained its intellectual
>aspects afterwards, in the middle of the 19th century, when it was
>reaching Eastern Europe, and thus, the intellectual, non-assimilationist
>Haskalah is an Eastern European product. The Wissenschaft you are all
>mentioning played a negligible role in the first third of the 19th
>century. By the time Reform and Wisenschaft become significant, most
>German Jews were no longer frum, and the Orthodox were already well on
>the counteroffensive.

The Maskilim in Eastern Europe held up the Gra as their role model and 
initially perceived Maran Reb Yisroel Salanter as one of them.

Hard to imagine Geiger and Holdenheim taking a similar stance.

'Nuff said?


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Date: Tue, 22 Nov 2005 00:44:03 -0500
From: "S & R Coffer" <rivkyc@sympatico.ca>
RE: Eliyahu was not a Cohen?

On Novemebr 21, Micha Berger wrote:
> On Tue, Nov 15, 2005 at 09:10:28PM +0000, kennethgmiller@juno.com wrote:
>: R' Micha Berger wrote <<< There is no actual issur in writing down
>: TSBP. "Ee ata resha'i" means it's a bad idea, not assur.>>>
> It sounded that way to me for two reasons: First, because as I continued,
> it better fits the reisha ("devarim shebikhsav...")

"Lo suchal le'echol bish'arecha"... and the targum translates "less lach
rishu"...which means that the lav of lo suchal is expressed in a lashon
of rishu.

Simcha Coffer

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Date: Tue, 22 Nov 2005 08:16:07 +0200
From: Eli Turkel <eliturkel@gmail.com>
Eliyahu was not a cohen?

If one looks at the pesukim it seems that Eliyahu carried the child to
his room. If there was a problem of Tumah why not have the mother or
someone else carry the child. That was not necessary for pikuach nefesh

Eli Turkel

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Date: Tue, 22 Nov 2005 08:18:35 +0100
From: Arie Folger <afolger@aishdas.org>
Re: Calling A Spade A Spade: Rambam and Kollel

RMB wrote:
> since even amora'im did not make their own derashos

Is that so obvious?

Arie Folger

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Date: Tue, 22 Nov 2005 12:00:14 +0200
From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@012.net.il>
Re: disagreeing with rishonim - haskafa

S & R Coffer wrote:
>>*Yaavetz*[ii] (1:108): *I am upset with Rishonim ...   Many times, we
>>see that they have arrogantly rejected the views of our Sages for their
>>own understanding based on the simple meaning of the text. Here also in
>>this case they don't accept the traditions of our Sages in understanding
>>the nature of the altar of the Temple...
>In all seriousness, although I definitely understand the ta'anah of the
>Yaavetz, Rav Dessler defends the Radak and in doing so puts an entirely
>different spin on the Radak's words. Who was right, the Yaavetz or Rav
>Dessler? Well, as anyone who knows me can guess, I am partial to Rav
>Dessler's approach in almost all subjects. I have good reasons for it
>though and will list them shortly bl'n.

This takes us a step forward- now that you accept that the Yaavetz
asserted that there are rishonim who felt it is legitimate to disagree
with Chazal. It would also follow that it is legitmate to understand the
Ohr HaChaim as saying that he has the right to disagree with understanding
of chazal - in non-halachic matters. At this point you apparently have
modified your original position to the point that we can both say there
is a totally legitimate debate in classic authoritative sources concerning
this matter. One should not be considered a shagetz or kofer for adopting
the view of major rishonim (though of course there are such assertions).

>>In fact it is such a common phenomenon that Rav Dessler felt it necessary
>>to rationalize it. Not everyone agrees however with his assertion that
>>the Rishonim didn't believe what they wrote- as is obvious from the
>>comments above.

>My primary purpose in writing this post was to make a few quick remarks
>and then get down to business regarding Rav Dessler's approach but
>it seems I have rambled on long enough so I'll leave Rav Dessler for
>another time.

At this point I think we are in agreement in rejecting your original
assertion that everyone holds chazal's views must be totally accepted
and that there is no legitimate disagreement with their interpreations.
It is also clear that there are gedolim such as Rav Dessler who agree
with your original assertion. I personally think that this position
requires some very creative readings that I find unsatisfactory. Aside
from the one I cited where he asserts that in essence the Rishonim lied
for the sake of kiruv another reading that I find problematic is his
interpretation of how to reconcile the views of the Rambam and Ramban
concerning medicine. While the latter is not directly connected with
our discussion - it is illustrative of the type of interpretation.

p528 in Daas Torah

*Michtav M'Eliyahu****(3:170): *At first glance it would seem that there
is a major dispute concerning curing the sick. The view of the Ramban
is that the truly pious do not need doctors. The view of the Rambam is
that it is a major error and stupidity not to use doctors. Rambam says
that using doctors for illness is no different than using food to cure
hunger--neither shows a lack of faith. Thus the Rambam says one should
use doctors and give thanks to G-d for cure just as one eats and gives
thanks to G-d for the food.... However upon more careful examination
it is apparent that there is no disagreement between the Rambam and the
Ramban but they are talking about people on different spiritual levels.
At the highest spiritual level the person perceives in all events the
hand of Providence. Thus he deals directly with G-d in all matters.
Therefore if such a person gets sick he will go to the prophet to
determine the spiritual cause for his illness and what G-d wants from
him in order to correct the problem. If such a tzadik went to a doctor
in the normal manner he would be considered as turning away from G-d and
that he believes now that there are causes other than spiritual ones.
Thus use of doctors is degrading for a highly spiritual person and he is
thus sinning--even the Rambam would agree to this. At the lower level of
spirituality, people view that everything is caused by natural forces.
Thus for these people G-d hides from them and conducts their world through
the intermediary factors of natural forces. This is what the Ramban
referred to as those "who are left to the random forces of nature." So
while these people have an obligation to pray to G-d for cure, they are
required to utilize medicine and natural procedures and to give thinks
to G-d when they get cured. This is the way to acknowledge G-d's conduct
and kindness with them and learn about His ways. The Ramban would also
agree that for such people that they need to go to doctors....A person
on this lower level who refuses medical treatment is properly described
by the Rambam as a fool. That is because a person's serving of G-d has
to be according to his spiritual level...

Ultimately what we are disputing concerns whether there have been major
authorities who have legitimate alternative undestandings of hashkofa to
what is assumed now. Successful denial of diversity makes contemporary
authority stronger. However it has an inverse effect if people can't
accept the validity of this denial. This is issue is nicely summarized
by the following quote of George Orwell.

  "He who controls the present controls the past. He who controls the
  past controls the future." /Nineteen Eighy-Four/

[EMail #2. -mi]

>This may sound like pure hisnatzlus but the Ramban didn't mean it! I
>have a source. Here goes...

>Translation from Sheviley Zahav pg. 27: (with my bracketed insertions)
>It is clear that these words that the Ramban spoke with his mouth, he
>annulled in his heart. An entirely different opinion was what really
>defined the Ramban's approach in these [aggadic sayings regarding
>the birth of Mashiach] either like the Abarbanel's interpretations or
>in other ways or possibly also according to the pathways of secrecy

>Well, there you have it. My take. What I find puzzling is that anyone
>who studies the Ramban on Shas or on Chumash *knows* the endless respect
>he has for their interpretations. Why would someone (I don't mean RDE)
>point out this Ramban which can so easily be imputed to circumstances,
>in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary? (RDE was just
>bringing down a list of sources and was attempting to remain faithful
>to his mission of revealing all possible sources)

There is a very intelligent discussion of the Ramban & Agaada by Prof 
Studies 40,1 1989 page 95-109

page 98-100

"Septimus makes the argument even stronger by virtue of the fact that
he cites in his notes numerous sources which sustain the point that
has just been made. His views are summarized with caution and clarity,
when he says, 'I would venture to say that anyone who reads Nahmanides'
commentary will find ample evidence that he did not accept the absolute
authority of all aggadah.' 13 What makes this entire discussion puzzling
is the fact that anyone who would take the trouble even to read casually
in Nahmanides' work, particularly, as Septimus points out, his commentary
on the Torah, would see immediately how strange it is to assert as a
truth beyond all question that his actual view was that we are obligated
to believe all aggadot. There is hardly a page in that commentary where
Ramban does not reject openly a midrash or a talmudic aggadah. This
approach to aggadah does not imply, as some of the commentators on this
subject supposed, irreverence or impiety. Neither does it imply a lack of
appreciation for the importance and value of aggadah. It simply indicates
an understanding that, in contrast with our relation to halakhah, we have
here the option, nay, the need, to be selective. We have a revealing
parallel in the way that Ramban relates to the commentaries of his two
great predecessors, Rashi and Ibn-Ezra, and to the works of Maimonides. He
is unsparing in criticism when it is called for in his judgement, even
to the point of seemingly unrestrained acerbity. Yet it is immediately
evident that he has the highest regard for these earlier commentators,
learns a great deal from them, often expresses agreement and appreciation,
while allowing himself the right to react to their work with careful
selectivity. When he thinks they are relatively superficial or when
he thinks they are wrong, he says so without hesitation. This does not
diminish his respect for them or his recognition of their importance or
that of other scholars and commentators who preceded him. No one who has
studied the works of Nahmanides can doubt for one moment that he held
Maimonides in very high regard. Yet, in one of the most extreme cases
of opposition to the views of Maimonides, he attacks his teaching with
remarkable lack of restraint, concluding his attack with the statement
that the account which is given by Maimonides 'contradicts Scripture so
that it is forbidden even to hear these words, to say nothing of believing
them' .14 Even so, there is no possible question about the deep regard in
which Ramban held Rambam. Yet Ramban is totally confident that he knows
how to be selective and which criteria to apply in particular cases.
This same attitude is evident throughout his treatment of aggadot.
Respect and appreciation do not imply that one is obligated to abandon
all independent judgement. The interpreters who find it difficult to
believe that Nahmanides could have meant what he said in his report of
the disputation have not paid close enough attention to his statement
in its context. Ramban is saying that we do not have to believe in the
truth or correctness of any given midrash. This does not mean that he
approaches the whole of rabbinic aggadah with an initial attitude of
disbelief, irreverence or outright rejection, but that we are permitted,
even mandated, to exercise our intelligence and our learning in order to
determine when to accept and when to reject a particular midrash. Those
who are shocked by Nahmanides' stance have paid insufficient attention
to the nature and status of aggadic literature within the complex of the
Judaic canon. They are equally lacking in an understanding of the style
and mentality of one of the greatest Jews of the Middle Ages. What is
particularly revealing is the extent to which these interpreters are
dominated by their preconceptions of the nature of Jewish orthodoxy.
Smce, as is clear from their writings, they identify orthodoxy with
literalist fundamentalism, they reach the understandable conclusion
that Ramban could not both be a voice of orthodoxy and question the
authority of 'canonized' aggadic texts. Had they taken the trouble to
look at the sources with an unprejudiced eye, they could easily enough
have discovered that very early authorities had already expressed doubts
and antagonisms toward aggadah in general. In the view of R. Zeira, the
very unstructured character of aggadah makes it dangerous. He asserts that
one cannot readily extract sound doctrine from it since it tends to turn
things upside down. 1 5 He thus advises his son to have nothing to do with
the study of aggadah, but to devote himself exclusively to halakhah. In
another well-known passage it is stated that a divine curse and other
dire consequences await those who occupy themselves with aggadah.^16 These
statements do not represent, by any means, the only opinion expressed on
this subject in the rabbinic sources, but it is certainly not a view which
is unique or totally idiosyncratic. Why then should Ramban be considered
to have uttered heretical statements when he simply propounded the far
milder position that we are not obligated to believe every aggadah? "

Daniel Eidensohn

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