lethargic_man: (Default)

[livejournal.com profile] aviva_m and I have just come back from our honeymoon in Japan; here's the start of my trip report on it (further instalments to come).

Read more... ) Well, that'll do for starters. I'll talk about something different next time.

[Japan blog posts] [personal profile] lethargic_man's Japan blog posts

lethargic_man: (capel)

A while ago I discovered that the Singer's Prayer Book editorship made quite a lot of tweaks to subsequent early impressions of the first edition. I'm intrigued to know how the earliest impressions were different from the late first edition (from the 1950s) that my father has, and have been keeping my eye out for a few years for early impressions online. Unfortunately, truly early ones (pre-1895, or for that matter even pre-1900) don't seem to be turning up. When I had another look a few days ago and found the 1904 impression scanned and readable online, I thought this was probably going to be as good as I was going to get, and I had a look through this volume to see what it offered.

(I'm aware that most of my readership to whom this would be meaningful will be reading from Facebook, not LJ or DW; but I'm posting it here anyway, so that I can find it again afterwards.)

The early impressions, 1904 included, made much use of references to save page-count (to keep the price down to 1/–), something that was eliminated in subsequent volumes but without retypesetting the complete book; hence the joke: How can you tell someone who uses the first edition Singer's siddur? Get them to count to one hundred and see if they go 94, 94a, 94b, 94c etc. In the 1904 impression mincha consists of a list of references to prayers found elsewhere, and takes up a single page, expanded in later impressions to no fewer than fifteen pages.

Tallis and tefillin are to be donned after, rather than before, ברכת השחר.

No Kaddish deRabbanan after ברכת השחר or, later on, פִּטּוּם הַקְּטוֹרֶת. (Even the second edition (1962) merely says some congregations recite it there.) This kaddish is included in the 1904 impression after Shacharis with the legend "Kaddish to be said after reading Lessons from the Works of the Rabbis".

מזמור שיר חנוכת הבית לדוד is found after Shacharis, with the label "In some Congregations the following Psalm is said daily before ברוך שאמר". The subsequent Mourner's Kaddish is missing altogether.

ויברך דויד is only said standing until משתחוים.

In ובא לציון and elsewhere Aramaic is described instead as "Chaldee".

No עלינו or subsequent kaddish in mincha on Friday. (The idea, so I've heard, is that these are both recited at the end of the service, and when services are recited back-to-back, you're not really ending it. We still do this between mincha and ne`ila on Yom Kippur.)

No meditation before kindling the Shabbos lights.

No Mourner's Kaddish after במה מדליקין. (This was also the case in the second edition.)

A little to my surprise, וְדִי בְּכָל אַרְעָת גַלְוָתָנָא "and in all the lands of our dispersion" is already added to the first יְקוּם פָּרְקָן in this edition. (This is one of the rare cases of an Orthodox authority tweaking the traditional wording of a prayer; the rest of the Orthodox world (e.g. ArtScroll) still has here "in Israel and in Babylonia" and expects the reader to infer the rest of the world as well.)

The Prayer for the Royal Family is somewhere I was expecting change; over the years the wording of the mediaeval prayer הַנּוֹתֵן תְּשׁוּעָה לַמְּלָכִים. was gradually shortened. (Of course, that prayer was written about absolute monarchs, which is why my (non-Orthodox) shul in London replaced it with a prayer for the government, not one for the Queen with a single short reference to the government ("her counsellors").) The wording given here, with changes compared to the second edition in bold, reads:

He who giveth salvation unto kings and dominion unto princes, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, who delivered his servant David from the hurtful sword, who maketh a way in the sea and a path in the mighty waters,—may he bless, guard, protect and help, exalt, magnify, and highly aggrandize [in the Hebrew only, redundantly repeating the following words: אֲדוֹנֵינוּ הַמֶּלֶךְ] our Sovereign Lord, King Edward, our gracious Queen Alexandra, George Prince of Wales, the Princess of Wales, and all the Royal Family [in the Hebrew only: יָרום הוֹדָם may their glory be exalted].

May the supreme King of kings in his mercy preserve the King in life, guard him and deliver him from all trouble, sorrow and hurt. May he make his enemies fall before him; and in whatsoever he undertaketh may he prosper. May the supreme King of Kings in his mercy put a spirit of wisdom and understanding into his heart and into the hearts of all his counsellors, that they may uphold the peace of the realm, advance the welfare of the nation, and deal kindly and truly with all Israel. In his days and in ours, may Judah be saved, and Israel dwell securely [missing here: the text of the second edition, and probably also later impressions of the first edition, is missing altogether: "may our Heavenly Father spread the tabernacle of peace over all the dwellers on earth"]; and may the redeemer come unto Zion. O that this may be his will, and let us say, Amen.

No Prayer for the State of Israel, of course, as it didn't exist yet.

Duchaning is, surprisingly, missing.

The traditional wording for מָעוֹז צוּר is given. (Chief Rabbi Hertz later changed לְעֵת תָּכִין מַטְבֵחַ מִצָּר הַמְּנַבֵחַ "when thou shalt have prepared a slaughter of the blaspheming foe" to לְעֵת תַּשְׁבִּית מַטְבֵחַ וְצָר הַמְּנַבֵחַ "when you have caused the slaughter to cease, and the barking of the enemy" [translation by myself], but it was changed back in the second edition.) דְּבִיר, which I would translate "shrine", and designates part of the Temple, is translated here as "oracle".

The four verses after the psalm before bentshing on Shabbos and yomtov are not given. (Only the first two are there in the second edition.)

Psalm 150 to be recited at the end of the wedding service. (Also in the second edition; reduced to "Some congregations" in the third.)

At the end of the last page, the end. :o) Total page count: 660, as against 841 in the second edition, 903 in the third and 926 in the fourth.

Berlin's other wall

Monday, April 2nd, 2018 05:05 pm
lethargic_man: (Berlin)
Went today to have a look at Berlin's other wall—the last remnant of the thirteenth to fourteenth-century mediaeval wall enclosing the twin cities of Berlin and Cölln, that is.

View piccy )

Applauding in Germany

Wednesday, March 28th, 2018 04:55 pm
lethargic_man: (Berlin)
There's an episode of Star Trek (the original series) in which the Enterprise crew visit a culture where people show their appreciation, not by applauding, but by rapidly switching the lights on and off at the tables where they are sitting. Scotty, however, cannot overcome his conditioning in this regard, and applauds loudly despite being the only person in the room to do so.

In Germany one applauds not by clapping, but by rapping one's knuckles on the table. Even after two years, I think of this episode of Star Trek every time I encounter this.
lethargic_man: "Happy the person that finds wisdom, and the person that gets understanding."—Prov. 3:13. Icon by Tamara Rigg (limmud)

I don't know about you, but I find the Jewish liturgy can often be rather dry and unemotional. Even for the most emotional points of one's life—bris milah, the wedding ceremony, the graveside kaddish or memorial prayer—the liturgy often reads like it's written by someone who hasn't experienced what he's writing for, and is more concerned about getting in Scriptural references than reflecting the emotion the one reading this might feel.

Consequently, I was astonished, the first time I visited my mother's grave after her funeral, to discover the following beautiful, moving and emotive prayer to be said on such an occasion, which I reproduce here for the benefit especially of my un-bereaved readers, whom I suspect will have as little idea as I that such a prayer exists in Judaism:

Peace unto thy beautified and pious soul, beloved and affectionate mother, who hast given me birth, and has reared me. Thou, who has loved, fostered and cherished me, and who had endured much suffering for me all the days of thy existence. Thou whose maternal care has been unceasingly devoted to my happiness, whose eye so ardently watched over my physical and mental development. But alas! since thou didst go the way of all flesh, I find nowhere a guide like unto thee, I therefore have strengthened myself on my way, and proceeded to the field of weeping, until I came to the house of my mother, and to the chamber of her who bore me. And lo! there I could behold thine earthly remains, wrapt in the sleep of death, whilst thy soul has soared heavenwards, and I exclaim: peace be unto thy soul, and may thy repose be in glory, thou blessed of women! May continually be verified in thee the promise, Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Eternal is risen upon thee.

But I thy servant turn unto thee, that thou mayest invoke upon thy son/daughter the tender mercies of God, that He may vouchsafe to hear the voice of my supplication, when I say, O thou awe-inspiring and holy God! extend Thy forgiveness, pardon my transgressions, and let Thine ineffable attributes prevail! May He who establishes peace in His high heavens be gracious unto us, as in the time of old. May He from His celestial seat grant me daily food and sustenance, and not be silent unto my tears, when in distress I call upon the Eternal as a poor and needy one. May He be gracious unto me and bid His benign messengers: "Redeem him from going down into the grave. May his bread not fail, nor should he see corruption." Grant that I may be worthy to behold children and children's children attached and devoted to Thy sacred laws, to perform Thy commandments, to walk in the path of uprightness, and be adorned with a crown of a good name free from sin and pure from guilt.

May thy pious soul rest in calm and quietude in the garden of Eden, in the circle of the pious and righteous mothers in Israel. Mayest thou be deemed worthy rise to everlasting life, in fellowship with all those pious, virtuous and godly daughters, to stand for thy lot at the end of thy days. May God please do so. Amen.

שָׁלוֹם לָךְ אִמִּי מוֹרָתִי, אֲשֶׁר טִפַּחְתְ וְרִבִּית אוֹתִי׃ וְנִצְטַעַרְתְּ עָלַי בְּלִי שִׁעוּר כְּפֵאָה וּכְבִכּוּרִים וְכָרֵאְיוֹן, וְנִטְפַּלְתְ בִּי כָּל־יָמַיִךְ, וְכָל־מַחְסוֹרִי הָיָה לִי מִיָדַיִךְ׃ וְעַתָּה מִיוֹם אֲשֶׁר הָלַכְתְּ בְּדֶרֶךְ כָּל־הָאָרֶץ לֹא נִשְׁאֲרָה לִי אוֹמֶנֶת כָּמוֹךְ, כִּי בְכָל־עֵת הֵכַנְתְ אֶת־טוֹבָתִי׃ וּבִרְאוֹתִי אָרְחִי וְזוֹ צָרָתִי הָלַכְתִּי לִשׂדֵה בוֹכִים, עַד שֶׁבָּאתִי אֶל־בֵּית אִמִּי וּלְחֶדֶר הוֹרָתִי׃ וְהִנֵּה הִיא לוּטָה בַשִּׂמְלָה, וְרוּחָהּ עָלְתָה לְמַעְלָה, וְאָמַרְתִּי שָׁלוֹם לָךְ וְשָׁלוֹם לִמְנוּתָתֵךְ וְשָׁלוֹם לְנִשְׁמָתֵךְ׃ מִנָּשִׁם בָאֹהֵל תְּבֹרָךְ, וְתָמִיד יֵאָמֵר עָלִַיְךְ, קוּמִי אוֹרִי כִּי בָא אוֹרְךְ, וּכְבוֹד ה׳ עָלִַיְךְ יִזְרָח׃

וְלִי אֲנִי עַבְדְּךְ, יֶהֱמוּ־נָא רַחֲמַיִךְ לְהִתְפַּלֵּל בַעֲדִי אֶל־ה׳, שִֶׁיִשְׁמַע קוֹל תַּחֲנוּנַי, בְּאָמרִי אָנָּא נוֹרָא וְקָדוֹשׁ תַּרְבֶּה מְחִילָתֶךָ, פּשָׁעַי לִסְלוֹחַ תְּגַלְגֵּל מִדּוֹתֶיךָ׃ יְחָנֵּנִי מִיּוֹמַיִם בְּרַחֲמָיו עוֹשֶׂה שָׁלוֹם בִּמְרוֹמָיו׃ וְיַסְפִּיק לִי מִשּׁמָיו בִּר וְלֶחֶם וּמָזוֹן בְּרַחֲמָיו, וְאֶל־דִּמְעָתִי אַל־יֶחֱרַשׁ בְּקָרְאִי מִן־הַמֵּצַר כְּעָנִי וָרָשׁ׃ יְחָנֵּנִי וְיֹאמֶר פְּדָעֵהוּ מֵרֶדֶת שַׁחַת, וְלֹא יֶחְסַּר לַחְמוֹ וְלֹא יָמוּת לַשַּׁחַת׃ וִיזַכֵּנִי לִרְאוֹת בָּנִים וּבְנֵי בָנִים בַּתוֹרָה וּבְמִצְוֹת עוֹסְקִים, וְיִהִיוּ בַּעֲלֵי מִצְוֹת וְשֵׁם טוֹב וְצַדִּיקִים, וּמִכָּל־עָוֹן וְאַשְׁמָה מְנֻקִּים׃

וְאַתְּ, נִשְׁמָתֵךְ תִּשְׁכּוֹן בְּצֵל עֲצֵי עֵדֶן אֵצֶל הָאִמָהוֹת הַיְשָׁרוֹת הַקְּדוֹשׁוֹת וְהַטְהוֹרוֹת׃ וְתִזְכִּי לַעֲמוֹד לִתְחִיָּה עִם־שְׁאָר נָשִׁים שַׁאֲנַנּוֹת וַחֲסִידִים וַחֲסִידוֹת בְּנוֹת עֲלִיָה, וְתַעֲמְדִי לְגֹרָלֵךְ לְקֵץ הַיָּמִין׃ כֵּן יַעֲשֶׂה הָאֵל ה׳, אָמֵן׃

The first time I saw this prayer, I was very moved by it (but didn't have the wherewithal with me to record it); the second time likewise. The third time, though, something narked me about it, but I'm now struggling to figure out what. I think it might be the intercession at the start of the second paragraph, which is in clear breach of the fifth of Maimonides' Thirteen Principles of Faith, the nearest Judaism has to a creed: that one should only pray directly to God. Intercession, as most Jews perceive it, is something Catholics do, not us.

And yet the Thirteen Principles of Faith don't have the weight of a formal creed (and there have been prominent rabbis in every century since they were written disagreeing with every one apart from the existence of God), and there are two other examples of intercessionism which have crept into Jewish prayer without, I suspect, most people noticing: בָּרְכוּנִי לְשָׁלוֹם מַלְאֲכֵי הַשָּׁלוֹם, said on a Friday night before Kiddush, and בַּמָרוֹם יְלַמְּדוּ עֲלֵיהֶם וְעָלֵנוּ זְכוּת in bentshing.

Looking at the prayer in a wider context, it also seems to reflect a confusion about whether, as here, the dead can intercede for the living before God, or whether the living need to pray for עֲלִיַת נִשְׁמוֹתָם, to elevate their souls from Gehinnom.

But then there has never been a Jewish consensus on the nature of the afterlife, and the Jewish attitude is to concentrate on this life rather than speculating about the next.

Two other things about this prayer occur to me before I leave the subject: The objection someone put forward when I blogged the words of the Yizkor prayer used by Belsize Square Synagogue, that this isn't appropriate for those who did not have a good relationship with their deceased parents. In this case, I don't think that's so much a problem: If you have a problem with this prayer, simply don't say it. There is no halachic imperative to say a prayer here. (Nor indeed is there at Yizkor, though there is I feel a stronger weight of expectation there.)

And finally, looking closely, I see that some of what moved me came from the translation, which is a little free, rather than from the original Hebrew. I wonder where it came from. I encountered this prayer in the book of prayers for mourners compiled by the late R. Toperoff for the United Hebrew Congregation of Newcastle upon Tyne; the look and feel (page layout, font, translation style) of which are the same as the first edition Singer's Prayer Book—and yet this prayer isn't in the Singer's Prayer book (or at least I don't think so: it's not in the later editions, and whilst I don't have a copy of the first edition, I do have a copy of the commentary companion volume, from which I can deduce that it wasn't in the first edition Singer's as it stood in 1922 in at least).

For all the above quibbling, though, the above is all just nit-picking: I still retain the positive reaction I had to this prayer the first time I saw it.

Single Day

Monday, March 12th, 2018 12:42 pm
lethargic_man: (beardy)
Those of you with long memories will recall that when I turned 33⅓, I celebrated my LP day. Well, as I approach turning 45, I am pleased to say I shall not be celebrating any Single Day. :)
lethargic_man: (Default)

View piccy )

The track listing, FWIW, involves a bunch of Django Reinhardt, Charleston music from the twenties, Sweet Emma Bartlett, a bit of ragtime, a Sydney Bechet track... You get the idea. :o)
lethargic_man: (Default)

The other week, [livejournal.com profile] aviva_m and I went for a long weekend in Copenhagen. Read more... )

lethargic_man: (Default)

This is my father's mother's mother's mother's father, Myer Goldberg. In the early 1850s, he came to the UK from Posen in Germany, today (as beforehand) Poznań in Poland. Read more... )

I had the opportunity to visit Poznań* a week ago; I have never before been to any of the places my ancestors came from, so this was a new experience for me.Read trip report and see photos )

The rabbit wedding

Wednesday, October 25th, 2017 08:01 pm
lethargic_man: (beardy)

It's been a while since we've had an adventures with the rabbits post. So what have they been up to all this while?

Well, mostly same old, same old. Here's Bar Navi giving a shiur to the other rabbits in the household:

View piccy )

But the most exciting piece of news is of course the wedding of the year, between Bar Navi and Jane. They held this immediately before the Wandering Jews event [livejournal.com profile] aviva_m and I hosted as part of our Sheva Berochos. All of the other rabbits in the household were guests (though none of the photos seem to have more than two or three in), as well as those who had managed to get to ours for Wandering Jews before Shabbos came in.

In this photo, you can see the happy couple at the right, along with Ginger and Monty, the other established rabbit couple in our household. The two white rabbits wearing taleisim are the witnesses at the wedding (and were a wedding present to us from [livejournal.com profile] curious_reader).

View piccy )

Under their chuppah, the rabbits exchanged ring equivalents. There's no insistence in Judaism upon a wedding being performed with a ring; it merely has to be something belonging to the giver worth above a certain value; which is most convenient when you're a crocheted rabbit with no fingers. So Bar Navi gave Jane a silver necklace with a silver carrot pendant; Jane gave Bar Navi a tallis clip also with silver carrot pendants. Here are the happy couple wearing them under the chuppah (with one of the guests visible in the background).

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Of course, they had a kesuba for their wedding too, which you can see here, along with the becher used in the wedding service:

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When you're a rabbit, your wedding bouquet (made, unknowingly, for the rabbits by someone at our wedding) can conveniently double as part of the wedding feast...

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And here's a last photo before Shabbos of both happy couples:

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Phew, what an exhausting day; time for rabbit bedtime [shot, of course, on another day]:

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Thanks to Frauke Ohnholz as official rabbit wedding photographer; you can see full-size versions of all her photos here, along with a short video of us singing סִימָן טוֹב וְמַזֶל טוֹב to the rabbits.

lethargic_man: (Berlin)
This beautiful building (click through for larger photo) is the old central post office in Berlin. It's a hundred metres away from my shul, so I see it every time I go to shul. The two signs in front of the main door read (though not at the time this photo was taken) "Post Office" and "Tube Post".

* Photo credit: Jörg Zägel (CC licence on Wikimedia).

Oooh, thought I; tell me there was a golden age of steampunk when Berlin was connected by a network of pneumatic tubes delivering post—and Wikipedia, once I remembered to check it weeks if not months later, obliged. The pneumatic post system dated from 1865 and lasted until 1976, and at its height consisted of 400km of tubes.
lethargic_man: (Default)
On the day after my wedding, I gave blood; later Andrea and I went to help sort clothes for the asylum seekers project at the New North London Synagogue.

At both places, people said to me, "What are you doing here on the day after your wedding?"

I would have thought the answer was obvious: Doing what was important to me.

Wedding report

Tuesday, September 12th, 2017 09:27 pm
lethargic_man: (capel)

As I mentioned in my last post, the reason I've not been on DW much recently is because I have just got married (and spent pretty much all my free time during the previous six months planning my wedding*).

* If you're going to get married, try to leave yourself more time. All the preparations went through all right, but ended up being completed at absolutely the last moment. And we only ended up completing getting the cake ordered the day before the wedding!

Before the wedding was even over, there was a stream of photos of it turning up on Facebook. Here's a report of the wedding put together from our wedding guide book and a selection of those photos. I've omitted a lot to make this, but (a) it took a lot of time getting the photo URLs out of Facebook (and they'll only be valid until the next time Facebook changes the way it works), and (b) this post is long enough already, so I think this will do. (If you want to read more, [personal profile] liv wrote a very nice report of the wedding and some of its ancillary events on her own blog.)

Read all about it! )

Enjoy the silence

Thursday, August 17th, 2017 09:26 am
lethargic_man: (reflect)
If any of you have been wondering why I've not been posting much lately, it's because it's my wedding in a week and a half, and I am very busy preparing for it.

Dapper attire

Sunday, July 16th, 2017 08:53 pm
lethargic_man: (Default)
On the left, (presumed) family members, (presumably) late nineteenth century. On the right, me today. Not an awful lot changed in the last century and a quarter, then.

View piccy )

REWE Marktplatz

Thursday, June 22nd, 2017 01:06 pm
lethargic_man: (computer geekery)
For anyone who's asked me in the last year what I'm doing at work, and I've tapped my nose and said, "I could tell you, but then I'd have to employ you," here's the answer.

Summary for anglophones: The supermarket chain I work for is launching something like Amazon Marketplace for products which are just outside the scope of what it sells in its supermarkets (e.g. pet food, specialist wines, kitchen equipment), to allow external vendors to sell through its online shop.


Thursday, June 22nd, 2017 01:05 pm
lethargic_man: The awful German language (Mark Twain's words, not mine) (Die schreckliche deutsche Sprache)
lachen = to laugh; lächeln = to smile
niesen = to sneeze; nieseln = to drizzle

Draw your own conclusions about what the ancient Germans thought God was doing when it drizzled.

P.G. Wodehouse

Friday, June 2nd, 2017 04:25 am
lethargic_man: (reflect)
In the mid 1990s, someone commented on Usenet, citing what I believe was newly discovered evidence that P.G. Wodehouse had been payrolled by the Nazis during the time he was broadcasting for them. At the time I had never read any Wodehouse myself, and decided I wasn't going to.

That is actually still the case now, but my thoughts on the subject have been changed by a session of Rafi Zarum's I went to at Limmud a year and a half ago, in which he talked about Shlomo Carlebach as "an amazing man [who] did some terrible things. It was very difficult when he was alive, but once he had died, the music and the good could live on its own. His music and his tunes became global only at that point. His death was his salvation."

On reflection, this made sense. After all, I didn't have any problems going to see a performance of Doctor Faustus by the same man who wrote The Jew of Malta. Marlowe was dead; he wasn't going to get any royalties from me or even just bask in the glory of ticket acclaim. Admittedly, being dead four hundred years isn't the same as being dead twenty, but somewhere there's got to be a cut-off point, so why not follow Rafi Zarum's suggestion for it?

(Well, maybe it's different when it's not something historical for oneself; it remains to be seen how I'll feel about listening to Rolf Harris's music once he's dead, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.)

So anyhow, now I've decided to stop forbidding myself from reading what by all accounts is a considerable comic talent, the only question remaining is where I should start. (By comparison, consider the Discworld books: one could (as indeed I did) start with the first one, but I would rather recommend a newcomer to try the series out with the fourth (Mort), written once Pratchett had got into his stride.)

Suggestions from afficionados?
lethargic_man: (Berlin)
On Dresdener Straße, there's bollards either side of Alfred-Döblin-Platz preventing motor traffic from passing, but permitting cyclists to go through. This is in front of St Michael's Church, where there's a kindergarten and a few children always playing outside on the very same stretch of tarmac when I pass that way a little before 6pm.

This is one of the strangest things to me about living in Berlin; in the UK there'd be parents up in arms about this, demanding railings separating the cyclists' route from where the children play (and probably cyclists demanding children shouldn't be let play on a public right-of-way), but here I've been going this way for a year and a quarter, and the two just seem to get on fine, the numerous cyclist commuters just slowing down a little and taking care to keep a wide berth between them and any child who might run in their way.


Friday, June 2nd, 2017 03:29 am
lethargic_man: (linguistics geekery)
"What's the opposite of abwesend?" asks my teacher. To me, it's so obviously paralleling "absent" that the only thing I can think of is "adwesend".

(This is likely to leave anyone who doesn't know both Latin and German scratching their heads...)


lethargic_man: (Default)
Lethargic Man (anag.)

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