Kabbalistic Shabbaton

A few people organize Shabbos where Rav Fievel Okowitta will give lessons. Maybe other disciples of RABASH and his grandchildren that now live in the NY area may be able to join as well.

Drop me a note if you’re interested to come.

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7 Responses to Kabbalistic Shabbaton

  1. I would like to say that I deeply respect all the people who really study Kabbalah, and espesially those who had a chance to study with Rabbash, and i am sure it is very intresting to meet Baal HaSulam’s grandchildren, and any member of Ashlag’s family, who can tell something about the life of these Great kabbalaists of 20th century.

    But as you know spiritual level can’t be inheritied, and sometimes, the greatness of the father, may be a serious problem for the son, in that that he will be always in the shadow of his father, and the greatness of Rabbsh was that he understood the level of his father, and manage Lehhitbatel completely, and in this way he concived the Hokhmmat haKabbalah from Baal haSulam.

    But not every student or grandchild may be as great as Rabbash was, and sometimes the fact, that somebody was the son or a student of a Great kabbalaist, means absolutly nothing, and the right way of progressing in kabbalah is to look for the kabbalaist who is capable, by his study and personal inner work, to show you a real way.

    And even if you are able to study with the best kabbalaist, nothing will help your spiritual progress if you just listen or are present at the lessons. each lesson shoud be filled with the practical understanding and examples of implementing the models of kabbalah in every day life, and you should go from the lesson, with a lot of home work to do, and a lot of the examples of spiritual Hitgabrut to practice, theoretical knowledge is important only if it is connected with its practical training, otherwise it can be even dammeging, because it will fuel your vanity, selfishness, and egocentrizm.

    We are very close to the Rosh HaShanna and we will be judged for all we did, but we will be written to the Book of Life only if there is any use of our activity for the development of the Creation.

    So don’t try to fine the “shadow” of the famous names of the Rebbis or their children or students, try to find a person who realy has a Hissaron for the correction and will be a real partner for you in study and a person to get a feedback from.

    Make a group of people who has real Immuna beKvi’ut, and your efforts won’t be in vain, these people may teach you much more than any relative of the “celebrity”, of course a good kosher knowledge should be got through the reliable teacher, or yeshivva, but inner work may not be taught, it can be observed, if you are lucky to meet a real Talmid Hakham.

    Shanna Tova to all Israeli people and all the Creation, SheNikkatev veNikhattem le Ha’im uLeShalom.

  2. Felix says:

    Children inherit connection to their fathers – zhut avot. In addition to hear from someone who were close to tzadik, his children have better potential than others to achieve greatness

  3. I completely agree with what you said, and it is the Rabbash’s example. What I try to say that not all the Gteat sages’ children or student ARE Rabbash! HaShem couldn’t built the inheritence in a way that it is enough to be somebody’s child or puiple, He gives potntial in the form of being somebody’s child but realization of this potential is completly depends on the person. Rabash went to USA to a Famous Rav, and asked him a question, and only when he got the answer and compeared it with the one his father-Baal HaSulam had given him, he understood the greatness of his father and Hittbatel towards him completely, in a way we may say that the potential of becoming Rabbash he got from his father, but the reality of being Rabash he got through his own inner work.
    Another example we may see through Rabbi Akivva and Rabbi Meir, and some others who were Gerrim or the children of gerrim, but became the greatest of their generation, and Israeli people are very proud of them.So we don’t know much about their hiredety potential, though joining Israel already shows the greatness of potential of these people, because they manage to see in Yehodut the only right way to the eternety.So their greatness was connected more to their belive in G-d’s justice, that states that we all are the parts of Malkhut de Ein Sof, and this way have the same spiritual Root, what we have to remember that the realization of this potential is possible only through the Yehoddut, and they had to LeHittbatel to this fact, and only when they converted, their potential started coming out into being.

    And that is what I ment, that if you want to have a group of Kabbalists, pay attention first of all on the level of the realization, and not on the level of potential, because on the scale of potential we are all G-d’s Children, but on the scale of realization of this status we are each on his different level. I heard some stories About Rabash from his relatives, students, his second wife-Feiga Ashlage, and they were about different people, it means that each of them understood Rabbash through his level of spirituality, and is abale to tell his and only his IMPRETION about the Tzaddik, to understand Who they were reality one can only if he gets to the level of these People, or hear it from the person, who were close to their level, when They were alive, or could raise his level later on and to analyse thier personality from their new level. When we are yuong our impretiom of our parents is different from the one when we are grown-ups, but if it didn’t changed it means that neither we developed, nor our understansing of our parents.

  4. Felix says:

    “Another example we may see through Rabbi Akivva and Rabbi Meir, and some others who were Gerrim or the children of gerrim, but became the greatest of their generation, and Israeli people are very proud of them.So we don’t know much about their hiredety potential, though joining Israel already shows the greatness of potential of these people, because they manage to see in Yehodut the only right way to the eternety.”

    It’s a good example to contradict your argument. Out sages teach that the reason that R’ Akiva was not chosen to head Sanhedrin is because sages feared that he had no zchut avos and therefore had to choose someone with lesser knowledge but from greater lineage.

    ARIZAL writes about the connection of Father and Son in Shar HaGilgulim. Interesting to note that connection (spiritual bond) between student and teacher is much stronger than between Father and Son. Thus Yehoshua was chosen to continue the path of Moses even though Moses had son(s)

  5. At the days of Rabbi Akiva, after the distraction of the second temple Sanhedrin togehter with its previous role bacame also a political and administrative organ, and the Head of the Sanhedrin was first of all expected to insure the phisical survival of the though dependent, but Israeli state,and jewish nation , and the maximalize of the Rabbi Akkiva, as well as the first coming out of Rabbi Shimmon Bar Yokhai from the cave could be very dameging for the existing of the state, and jewish people. We know that “overqualifed” person may damage the work he is surpossed to do.

    There is no doubt that “zchut avot” is very important to the spiritual-genetic qualities that the person has as his base, gerrim aqware the right qualities, but the children of the sages have these qualities in their genetic heritage, and it is very important, because when it is the question of dealing with go’im and the differences inside the jewish population of that time, one needs more diplomacy, in the meaning of being stable no matter what the chalenge is, and it is got through the greater lineage, because one has only to reenfforse it( his efforts+ inheretence of Avot) in his personality, and not to built it from zero( the example about mice that behaved nicely, till the cat apeared),than spiritual knowledge, and thus the choice of sages was absolutly right, because as we know, with all the greatness of Rabbi Akkiva’s knowledge, he nearly and failed to manage and administrate his 24 thousand of students, and the result was one of the spiritual dissasters. Each person has his greatness in a certain field, some are good organases, and some are good teachers, and the survival of the jewish nation is the most important goal, so it was one of the cleaverest decision of that time that Rabbi Akkiva wasn’t chosen to the head of the Sabhedrin, and G-d fobbid even to think what could have happened to the jewish people( examples of the distraction of the Jerusalem, because of the policy of the Zillot Party, that burned all the food suplises of those days). It is good to be Zelous in study, but no good in dealing with people.

    So if you want to choose the head of the group, pay attention to lineage, if you choose a person to study with, find “RAbbi Akkiva”

  6. yehudith says:

    V’etchanan(Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11)
    Zachor and Shamor
    By Rav Ari Kahn

    The Book of Devarim is also known as Mishneh Torah, translated as Deuteronomy. The practical explanation for the book’s name, and for its raison d’etre, is that at the end of Moshe’s life, before taking leave of his people, Moshe saw fit to teach the generation of Israelites who would soon enter the Land of Israel. This is not the generation that left Egypt, nor are they the same people who stood at Mount Sinai. That generation perished, and soon Moshe would be “gathered in to his people” – Moshe, too, would die in the desert. The Israelites who would enter the Promised Land were of a new generation; they had been children at the time of the Exodus, or were born during the Jews’ 40-year sojourn in the desert.1 This new generation, too, must hear God’s laws. Therefore, we are not surprised to find material from the four earlier Books of the Torah repeated in the fifth book: Mishneh Torah, Deuteronomy, literally means “the repetition of the law.”

    One particular repetition, found in Parshat Va’etchanan, is of particular interest: The Revelation at Sinai. Parshat Va’etchanan recounts that Revelation, and restates its content, the Decalogue – or the Ten Commandments. This seminal event, and the founding principles of Judaism that were transmitted at that event, were surely worthy of repetition, and we find nothing strange in Moshe’s reminder to his young audience:

    Only take heed to yourself, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things which your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life; but teach them to your sons, and to your grandsons; The day when you stood before the Almighty, Omnipotent God in Horev, when God said to me, ‘Gather the People together, and I will make them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children.’ And you came near and stood under the mountain; and the mountain burned with fire to the heart of heaven, with darkness, clouds, and thick darkness. And God spoke to you out of the midst of the fire; you heard the sound of the words, but saw no form save a voice. And He declared to you His covenant, which He commanded you to perform, ten commandments; and He wrote them upon two tablets of stone. (Devarim 4:9-13)

    Rather than simply reminding them of the Revelation, Moshe goes one step further; he repeats the words which echoed from Heaven – more or less. A close reading of the Ten Commandments as recorded in Parshat Va’etchanan reveals deviations from the wording of the Ten Commandments in Shmot, Parshat Yitro. Many scholars have offered explanations of these variances, each taking into account one or more of the relevant factors of time, place, experience, purpose and point of view of those hearing the speech and of the speech itself.

    Moshe repeated the Ten Commandments on several occasions, the first of which was at Mount Sinai. The people recoiled from the sound of God’s voice; the experience of direct communication was overwhelming, terrifying, and Moshe was called upon to transmit the Ten Commandments to the people.2 The second time Moshe repeats the law to the People is in our present parsha. The Ibn Ezra suggests that the Ten Commandments as found in Yitro are the Words of God, while those found in Va’etchanan are the words of Moshe.3 As evidence for this position, Ibn Ezra points to the wording of the Fourth and Fifth Commandments in Va’etchanan: “…as the Lord your God has commanded you.” 4

    The Pnei Yehoshua (Yehoshua Yaakov Falk, 1680-1756) raises a different possibility: God said the Ten Commandments twice in Yitro, each time in a different way; First God uttered all Ten Commandments simultaneously,5 in an act of Divine Speech. Then God uttered each of the Commandments again, in a form of speech more easily recognized by human senses; the first two Commandments were spoken directly to the entire People, and when they recoiled, the rest were said exclusively to Moshe who in turn relayed the teaching to the People. The Pnei Yehoshua goes on to suggest that the two repetitions, both spoken by God, had differences. The first version is reflected in the text of Shmot, and the second, in Devarim.6

    Another variable that comes into play is the fact that there were two different sets of Tablets. Do the differences between Shmot and Devarim stem from God’s commandment to record different words on each set of Tablets? In Yitro, God spoke and Moshe repeated the words. While we would expect Moshe to faithfully and precisely transmit the Word of God, is it possible that Moshe, our teacher par excellence, added explanatory comments along the way? The suggestion that Moshe might have changed anything in the Torah is disturbing,7 even bordering on heretical. Surely, we must be extremely precise: It is a tenet of Jewish faith that the entire Torah is divine, and was dictated by God to Moshe. Nonetheless, Moshe most certainly needed to explain the law in a manner that would make it accessible and understandable. This necessitated the use of different explanatory words, in order to assure that the content was understood, and unchanged. Were these explanatory words included only in the second retelling? Or does each version of the Commandments include different explanatory comments added in by Moshe, tailored to the different audiences?

    In other words, what is the correlation between what God said,8 and what Moshe said? Between what God told Moshe to write in the Torah in Exodus and in Devarim? Between what was written on the first Tablets, which were shattered, and the second Tablets, which were successfully received by the People?9

    Each of these variables could result in a different explanation for the differences between the two versions of the Ten Commandments. But rather than plumb the depths of the possible causes or reasons for the differences, let us examine the differences themselves, for there is so much to be learned from them. Specifically, I would suggest that the first major, substantive difference between the two “versions” is in the Fourth Commandment; up until that point, most of the differences may be considered explanatory, with more words and explanations provided in Devarim. In the Fourth Commandment, concerning Shabbat, the difference is not a question of details, nor a question of the language used to make the point. Here, the difference represents a new perspective altogether.

    Let us compare the Fourth Commandment as it appears in Shmot and in Devarim. In each instance there is an introductory command:

    In Shmot 20:8:

    Remember (or, commemorate) the Shabbat day, to sanctify it.

    In Devarim 5:11:

    Keep (or, guard) the Shabbat day to sanctify it, as the Almighty your God has commanded you.

    The word ‘remember’, zachor, is replaced with ‘guard’ (or ‘keep’), shamor, and the problematic “as the Almighty your God has commanded you” is tacked on. Next comes the body of the law:

    In Shmot 20:8-9:

    Six days shall you labor, and do all your work; But the seventh day is Shabbat of the Almighty your God; on it you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger that is within your gates.

    In Devarim 5:12-13:

    Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; But the seventh day is Shabbat of the Almighty your God; on it you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your ox, nor your ass, nor any of your cattle, nor your stranger who is inside your gates; that your manservant and your maidservant may rest as well as you.

    The additional words in Devarim do not contradict the earlier version in any way; they provide more explanation: “that your manservant and your maidservant may rest as well as you.”

    The final section of the Commandment is the reason for Shabbat, and it is here that we find two divergent rationales for Sabbath observance:

    In Shmot 20:10:

    For in six days God made the heavens and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore God blessed the Shabbat day, and sanctified it.

    In Devarim 5:14:

    And remember that you were a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the Almighty your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm; therefore the Almighty your God commanded you to keep the Shabbat day.

    In Shmot, the rationale for Shabbat is Creation: Shabbat is a testament to our belief in the Creation and the Creator. On the other hand, in Devarim the Shabbat is commanded as a reminder of our enslavement in Egypt, and of our liberation by God’s Hand. This is no mere explanatory comment; here are two vastly different, potentially contradictory reasons for observance of Shabbat.

    To summarize our findings: The introductory statements for each of the versions of this commandment use unique language to describe the active commemoration of Shabbat – “to remember”, on the one hand, and “to guard”, on the other. In both versions, the main body of the commandment consists of a similar list of laws, albeit more fully developed by presumably explanatory material in Devarim. The conclusions drawn by each of the two versions seem to offer mutually exclusive philosophical underpinnings for the Shabbat.

    Most traditional commentaries focused on the first of these differences, the terms shamor and zachor, ‘guard’ and ‘remember’ (‘commemorate’), and they refer us to the nature of Divine Speech: zachor and shamor were uttered simultaneously, in a way that human speech is incapable of imitating.

    Zachor (Shmot 20) and shamor (Devarim 5) were pronounced in a single utterance, – an utterance which the mouth cannot utter, nor the ear hear. (Talmud Bavli – Shevu’ot 20b)

    One may ask, which of the words “zachor and shamor” was actually spoken by God; the Talmud’s answer is that both are Divine – and were said in a Divine fashion.

    These two words represent two different concepts: Technically, remembering is a cerebral act which may be performed at any time during the week – on Shabbat, before Shabbat, or after Shabbat. Therefore, our Sages considered preparations for Shabbat as part and parcel of the process of “remembering” or “commemoration”. Similarly, reciting the Kiddush is, according to some rabbinic opinions, a fulfillment of zachor – “Remember the Shabbat day, to sanctify it”. On the other hand, “guarding the Shabbat” is associated with avoiding prohibited actions.

    Upon analysis, each of these aspects of Shabbat is incomplete. We can easily imagine a 24-hour period in which we do no creative activity, a sterile non-working day in which we have indeed fulfilled the commandment of shamor to the letter, without actually having observed Shabbat:

    He who took trouble [to prepare] on the eve of Shabbat will eat on Shabbat, but he who has not troubled on the eve of Shabbat, what shall he eat on the Shabbat? (Talmud Bavli Avoda Zara 3a)

    Similarly, one may prepare for Shabbat and not keep Shabbat – preparing all his needs before sundown, even reciting Kiddush, yet continuing all his creative workday pursuits on the seventh day itself. The two aspects of Shabbat are two sides of the same coin. Each aspect is incomplete without the other; together they create a complete, sanctified day of rest. God uttered “zachor and shamor” simultaneously.

    And yet, this concept of Divine, simultaneous transmission of the two concepts, zachor and shamor, does not provide an all-encompassing answer. We might yet ask why one version was recorded in the Book of Shmot and the other in the book of Devarim. Furthermore, we have not solved the dissonance between the concluding sections of the Commandment. My teacher and Rebbi, Rabbi Yosef Soloveitchik, addressed these problems, and offered a deep philosophical insight: In reality, the two different rationales for Shabbat do not contradict one another. Rather, they teach the same law from two different vantage points. The formulation in Shmot states: “For in six days God made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore God blessed the Shabbat day, and sanctified it.” There is one thing missing here – namely, man. What does man have to do with this? Why should humankind keep Shabbat? Moreover, if Shabbat exists simply because God created, this law should be universal, and not apply only to members of the Covenant, to Jews alone.10 This Commandment, Rabbi Soloveitchik pointed out, is theocentric, reflecting God’s perspective. The seventh day is holy because God created for six days and then desisted from creating. This is echoed in the verse in Bereishit, uttered at the very dawn of creation:
    And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it; because on it He rested from all His work which God created to make. (Bereishit 2:3)

    The fact that God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it does not necessarily affect man; only when man is commanded to keep that day in a similar or imitative fashion is he brought into the frame, into God’s frame of reference, as it were.

    On the other hand, the rationale for Shabbat as stated in Devarim is of a totally different order, drawn from a totally different sphere: We were enslaved, and God rescued us. “And remember that you were a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the Almighty your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm; therefore the Almighty your God commanded you to keep the Shabbat day.” This formulation is homocentric. The former slaves are addressed in a particularly compelling way: As slaves, they had no freedom. Now, as free men and women, they are free every day. They have been given all seven days of the week to pursue their individuality, and with this Commandment, God asks that they put aside one-seventh of their gift in return. Seen from this perspective, Shabbat becomes a moral imperative for those whose shackles were broken, homage to their liberator.

    The two rationales are not contradictory; one speaks from God’s perspective, teaching us that the seventh day is holy and unique. The other speaks from the human perspective, requiring man to rest as well. Had it not been for the first rationale, man would be able to choose his own day of rest; each and every day would be an equally valid candidate, and no one day would have religious superiority over the others. On the other hand, with only the first formulation, man would remain outside the picture; man would have no part in the sanctity of the seventh day, just as he was not a party to Creation.

    Both of these perspectives were taught by God, simultaneously, at Sinai. Yet each was recorded, emphasized, at different junctures in the history of the Jewish People. The generation that left Egypt would certainly have no trouble embracing the idea that one day each week should be a day of rest. These former slaves may have perceived this Commandment primarily as a social law instituted to protect workers’ rights and prevent future enslavement. Therefore, the generation that left Egypt, the generation of liberated slaves that stood at Sinai, was taught about the other reason for Shabbat: This day is hallowed because of Creation, and by emulating God and keeping the Shabbat we forge a powerful, holy relationship with Him.

    The generation that stood poised to enter the Land of Israel knew neither work nor slavery. It was this generation that needed to hear about the human side of Shabbat. They had to be taught that the seventh day is not exclusively Divine in nature. The human and social implications of Shabbat would not have been intuitively understood by those who were sustained by miracles for forty years.

    And what of us, the generations who read the words of the Torah millennia later? We are privileged to see both aspects transmitted in the text we have received. We have a multi-faceted Written and Oral Tradition which illuminates at least two sides of Shabbat – the human and the Divine. By preparing for Shabbat during the week and sanctifying the seventh day of each week, we can elevate ourselves and enjoy our own rendezvous with God.

  7. yehudith says:

    Ekev(Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25)

    Spiritual Nourishment
    by Rav Aba Wagensberg

    This week’s parsha contains the verse, “…Not by bread alone does man live; rather, on all that comes from the mouth of God does man live” (Deut. 8:3). We will return to this verse shortly, after we see a few other Torah sources about eating.

    In Parshat Beshalach, Moses speaks to the Jewish people regarding the manna, saying, “Eat it today, for today is Shabbat; today you will not find it in the field” (Exodus 16:25). The manna was the Jewish people’s primary sustenance during their 40 years in the wilderness. Based on the three-fold repetition of the word “today” in this verse, the Talmud (Shabbat 117b) derives that we must eat three meals on Shabbat.

    When the day before Passover is Shabbat, bread may not be eaten for the third Shabbat meal. The Remah (Orach Chaim 444:1) states that, according to the Ashkenazi custom, egg matzah may not be eaten either. Instead, in this situation, fruit, meat and fish make up for the lack of bread or matzah. Furthermore, the Magen Avraham notes that Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai used to spend the third Shabbat meal studying Torah, and this satisfied his obligation.

    Where do we see that studying Torah can be an adequate substitute for eating a meal? The verse mentioned earlier from this week’s parsha (“…Not by bread alone does man live; rather, on all that comes from the mouth of God does man live”) may explain this. The mitzvah of a Shabbat meal is not through eating “bread alone.” We greatly enhance the meal by learning Torah – the Divine wisdom “that comes from the mouth of God.”

    We can suggest that this idea specifically refers to the third Shabbat meal. In the verse about the manna mentioned above, the third mention of the word “today” corresponds to the third meal: “Today you will not find [the manna] in the field.” We can infer from here that we do not always find the nourishment for the third meal in the produce of the field. Rather, we can be nourished as well by using our mouths to speak words of Torah, as the verse says, “The matter is very near to you, in your mouth and in your heart to perform it” (Deut. 30:14).

    Among certain circles, the third Shabbat meal tends to be neglected. This is a troubling oversight, since all three meals are an integral part of the mitzvah of Shabbat and are obligatory according to Jewish law. The Talmud (Shabbat 118a) teaches that our care in eating all three Shabbat meals will protect us from three calamities that precede the messianic era: the war of Gog and Magog (Armageddon); the “birth pangs of Messiah” (severe disagreements among Torah scholars [Rashi]); and the judgment of Gehenom. Each meal seemingly protects us from one of these three punishments.

    * * *


    The third Shabbat meal is traditionally referred to as Shalosh Seudos (literally, “three meals”), or more accurately, Seudah Shlishit (“third meal”). The siddur Yesodei Yeshurun, however, explains that Shalosh Seudos is actually a truer description of the meal. Eating the first two Shabbat meals is a mitzvah – but we are hungry anyway. It can therefore be difficult to tell whether we are eating these meals for God or just to satisfy our own hunger. Only once we reach the third meal (especially in the winter, when we sit down at the table again just an hour after finishing lunch) can we discern our true motivations for eating. When we push ourselves to eat the third meal, despite our lack of hunger, it is clear that we are eating only in order to fulfill a mitzvah. Our pure intentions for this meal are then retroactively applied to the first and second meals as well. The reward for all three meals is contained in the third – hence its traditional designation as Shalosh Seudos (“three meals”).

    In contrast to the weekday prayers, each of the three Amidah prayers on Shabbat is different. The Friday night Amidah mentions the creation of heaven and earth; the liturgy on Shabbat morning discusses Moses’s bringing the Torah down from Mount Sinai; and the Amidah on Shabbat afternoon describes the messianic era, when God’s unity will be universally recognized.

    The commentator Ohr Gedaliyahu explains that each Shabbat meal corresponds to one of these monumental historical events. Thus, as we gather to eat the three delicious Shabbat meals, we also have the opportunity to digest their significance. On Friday night, we focus on strengthening our belief that God created the world. On Shabbat day, we celebrate receiving the Torah. And at the third meal, we tap into an energy of purity and sanctity that will characterize the messianic era. Our awareness of the potential of these times can help us make the most of every Shabbat.

    May we be blessed with the highest of Sabbaths – not just this week, but also when we eventually reach the messianic era, described as “a day that is entirely Shabbat.” Through the mitzvah of strengthening ourselves in Shabbat, its meals, and what they represent, may we be spared the difficulty and upheaval of the End of Days, and soon merit to live in a world where every day will have the sanctity of Shabbat.

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