Interfaith Shoftim

Discussion in 'Interfaith Parsha Project' started by dauer, Sep 4, 2005.

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  1. Faithfulservant

    Faithfulservant New Member

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    Heres my take on this..

    I believe God set a standard for the king for the people of Israel. .. When He said that the king not be a foreignor I believe is because foreign kings would not have the best interest of his people.. Just as he would not if he was interested in wealth and anything to do with worldly gains...suggesting a man that would be humble and loving of His people. Having their best interest at heart.. Sending the people to Egypt would be tatamount to sending them back into danger which is why the Lord said do not turn back that way again.. It was a warning.

    We also have Gods requirement that the King be righteous... reading the law so that it was ingrained in him and not to put anything in his path that would cause him to stray.. the wives the horses.. the gold and silver.

    Theres a prophecy in this that I can see..

    Thats a promise of God if Israel obeys Him in their selection of King. I hope to see all the promises of God as we continue this project.
     
  2. Faithfulservant

    Faithfulservant New Member

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    I see God seeking to protect the people of Israel.. giving them somewhere to flee for safety. We also see the beginning of organized law enforcement in a sense.. The innocent have the means to flee to safety.. and the guilty have nowhere to hide basically a warrant for their arrest. Im very interested in numbers and the number 3 I think I would like to point out just for a mental mark. 3 cities then another 3 cities.. Does anyone else think that numbers in scripture mean something? We see another promise of God..

    To me this is simple.. My father gives me a $3.00 allowance because he told me he would but then tells me that he will double that to $6.00 if I do all my chores without complaining and not talk back and just behave myself..

    The promise of 3 was met and an additional 3 was promised if they continue to walk in his ways.. I will always be referencing earthly fathers with God because to me He is just that my heavenly Father and it helps me understand if I do that.

    Sorry I got behind on where we were I hope ya'll dont mind that I played catch up. :)
     
  3. pohaikawahine

    pohaikawahine Elder Member

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    chapter 19 .... hmmmmmmm .... there are a number of critical symbols in this section and also in the various postings above related to it ....


    let me start by saying that on the hawaiian islands, in the old days, there were cities of refuge .... they are called pu'uhonua and basically these are places that those who disregarded traditional restrictions kapu-breakers, murderers, and other transgressors could hastily retreat to gain sanctuary from reprisal. Upon reaching the entrances to these compounds, often enclosed by extensive and massive stone walls, the refugee immediately gave thanks to the guardian deity .... the one seeking asylum usually remained several days and then returned home, absolved of his misdeeds by the gods .... fugitives from battle also fled to these places .... (note the reference to 'guardian deity' and the ability to leave the city of refuge) .... these were the only checks to the king's absolute power of life and death ...

    now for the symbols and possible interpretations ....

    "the place of the presence of god in the wilderness" .... in hawaii the top of the mountain (symbolic of the top of the head) is called "wao-akua" the forest of the gods .... it is a place so wild that man seldom is able to penetrate it .... the metaphor is that in meditation it is difficult to access this place ....

    "gauge the distance and divide into three territories your land" .... there are three hemispheres of the brain which sometimes are referred to as the 'continents' or the 'islands' or could be 'cities' .... could three territories be related to different aspects of the brain or possible related to the three aspects of the soul which I read in Hebrew would be called nefesh (vital soul) ruah (spirit), neshamah (innermost soul) and each has its seperate abode ... I don't really know, but it is possible ....

    "12 elders of this town" .... the circle of twelve is related to the 12 pairs of cranial nerves that operate the whole internal system of energy flow .... I also suspect that each elder represents one of the 12 tribes ....

    "grab the horns on the altar" .... this is an interesting one because the inner sanctum of the brain, the holy of holies, is covered by a structure called the caudate nucleus and it looks like "horns" .... thus to grab the horns on the altar would be to go to this place internally .... so I have to think about the connection to a place of refuge and the horns on the altar ....would the inner sanctum of the brain, the altar, be the place of sanctuary ....

    now this will seem a little far fetched, but to me it is related .... from the Zohar, basic readings edited by gershom scholem .... "how to stand before god" ...." but what if a man sins against the commands of the law, and then in repentance goes to offer service to god? verily, he is grieved of heart and penitent of spirit, and how then shall he show joy and singing? the truth is, hoever, that the priests and levites did it.... but in these days of no offerings, how is that man to manifest joy and singing who returns to his master heavyhearted and sorrowful, in tears and repentance? the answer is based on a secret. we have learned: a man should go into the synagogue to the distance of two gateways and then pray. this is a reference to the words of david "life up your heads, o ye gates" these gates are two grades, and they are found far within; they are the grades of mercy (hesed) and fear (pahad) and they are the gateways of the inner world.... hence in prayer a man must fix his thoughts on the holy of holies" .... perhaps the two gateways and the inner sanctum are the three territories or cities .... this would fit with the left and right hemisphere of the brain (the gateways) and the inner sanctum which is the altar protected by the caudate nucleus (the horns) .... the circle of twelve (pairs) surround the whole structure .... more to think about .... he hawai'i au, pohaikawahine
     
  4. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    Chapter 19
    The command here is to place refuges in equadistant places, so that no matter where the individual seeking refuge is, he can easily get to a place of safety. The number of towns (three), has a symbolic meaning...but I can't quite put my finger on it.

    Involuntary manslaughter should not be punished by death, yet the Lord is aware of man's desire to lash out at one who causes him loss, pain and grief, and because of this provides for the "victim of circumstances" safety. The Lord also implies that man is incapable of reigning in his own impulses (ergo, you can't control yourself, so I am stepping in).

    Clearly the Lord is offering refuge to more than the manslaughterer, but to the others, to keep them from committing a wrong in their rage. The Lord refuses to allow any to stumble in their walk with Him, and to give both sides time to cool off and come to their senses. The Lord is also extremely concerned with the land not being tainted with the consequences of man's potential rage.

    The Lord differentiates between First degree murder, second degree murder, and accidental manslaughter (much like the American court system today).

    It is interesting to note that even though the man guilty of manslaughter is spared his life, he is still forced to go to a prison (of sorts), and loses his freedom to go where he will unabated. So he does pay a price.

    v/r

    Q
     
  5. dauer

    dauer Active Member

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    This is all beautiful, all of the contributions. I am going to bring us to the end of the parsha and then we can go back, but there's something I want to make sure we have time for because at least to me it is a peculiar episode.

     
  6. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    How logical is the Lord. The closest city, most likely harbors the slayer of the innocent, hence that town is unknowingly tainted with the blood of the innocent. One bad apple can spoil a whole barrel full...

    To compensate, and to show that the people of the town value the life of each man, a sacrifice is made on behalf of the dead, and on behalf of the living.

    The unyoked calf and the untilled valley suggest total innocence of the harshness of life. Untainted if you will. Decapitating the calf is the spilling of innocent blood, and the washing of hands over it, seems to me like an oath that they saw nothing nor heard anything (for to have seen or heard, and done nothing is to be as guilty as the one who committed the crime). The priests are overseeing this ritual as the elders proclaim their innocence, and I suspect that any who might know of this crime, would not be able to continue...hence the Levites judging every lesion and contraversy. LOL, this is God's Lie detector system!

    Who could face man and God and not confess, if some knowledge of the crime was there? If none confess, then the town is truly blameless. I say if none confess, because I think that under the circumstances the pressure placed upon all the town folk, would eventually render a confession from the guilty. If the death was an accident, then the town would know by virtue of the "victim of circumstances" fleeing to safe haven towns.

    This seems to reinforce the concept of being one's brother's keeper.

    Of course I could be all washed up.

    v/r

    Q
     
  7. dauer

    dauer Active Member

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    What I find so intriguing is the way the calf is killed. It's not the kohanim. It's the elders. Why does this specific situation require the elders and not the kohanim to decapitate the calf? Is it actually a qorban or is it something else? What is going on?

    Dauer
     
  8. Faithfulservant

    Faithfulservant New Member

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    1. If a slain person be found in the land which the Lord, your God is giving you to possess, lying in the field, [and] it is not known who slew him,
    2. then your elders and judges shall go forth, and they shall measure to the cities around the corpse.
    3. And it will be, [that from] the city closer to the corpse, the elders of that city shall take a calf with which work has never been done, [and] that has never drawn a yoke,
    4. and the elders of that city shall bring the calf down to a rugged valley, which was neither tilled nor sown, and there in the valley, they shall decapitate the calf.
    5. And the kohanim, the sons of Levi, shall approach, for the Lord, your God, has chosen them to serve Him and to bless in the Name of the Lord, and by their mouth shall every controversy and every lesion be [judged].
    6. And all the elders of that city, who are the nearest to the corpse, shall wash their hands over the calf that was decapitated in the valley;
    7. And they shall announce and say, "Our hands did not shed this blood, nor did our eyes see [this crime]."
    8. "Atone for Your people Israel, whom You have redeemed, O Lord, and lay not [the guilt of] innocent blood among your people Israel." And [so] the blood shall be atoned for them.
    9. And you shall abolish the [shedding of] innocent blood from among you, for you shall do what is proper in the eyes of the Lord.

    Wow this one is intense.. there seems to be a lot of levels in this.. I also thought it was interesting that it was the elders and not the priests who sacrificed the calf. This is hard for me not to see a foreshadowing of Jesus Christ and the sacrifice He made by shedding innocent blood in order to make the guilty.. innocent where He says Go and sin no more. Its scripure like these that I wish I knew the culture more so that I could understand how significant it is.
     
  9. Dondi

    Dondi Active Member

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    The guilt of the murderer is placced on the entire city that he comes from, since that murderer is unknown. There has to be some kind of price for the murdered victim. Therefore it is the elder of the city who must make an atonement for the guilt of innocent blood. It becomes a corporate sin. But it begs the question: If the entire city has to atone for the shedding of innocent blood, does this mean that the murderer, even if unknown, is atoned for also?
     
  10. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    Kohanim preside over ritual gorban yes? However this is not a ritual sacrifice. This is an emergency sacrifice. As such it is not the priests that are required to preside over, but to judge over as the elders perform this unprecidented sacrifice. The elders of the town, not the priests are being held accountable. It is not the Kohanim's place to perform this function, but to observe the leaders to see if they are speaking the truth, or being deceitful.

    The Kohanim remind me of Police "internal affairs" agents. Again, I think this is the "lie detector of the times".

    Am I way off?

    v/r

    Q
     
  11. dauer

    dauer Active Member

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    Dondi, according to one interpretation, "and you shall abolish [the shedding of] innocent blood..." could mean that if the murderer is found, the murder is still held accountable according to the law. For me, that's not satisfying enough of an answer, and I think it's a really good question you asked. Rambam suggests that the whole ritual will make noise and attract people, such that they'll be able to question them about the murder. This feels like it's worth getting deeper into.

    Quahom,

    I think one reason I would not call it a qorban, is because it never calls itself a qorban. It also does seem very ritualized, with specific guidelines for how it is to be done. Wait... Idea... This whole issue involves a dead person... Kohanim cannot come into contact with the dead. They find a corpse, so the kohanim just stand behind and monitor. They can't come close, because they don't want to be rendered tamei by the dead body. The elders wash their hands clean of the affair onto the animal and then kill it, but the kohanim don't because of the risk of becoming tamei.

    This might be a type of lie detector. It seems to me at least like a way of removing communal guilt. According to Fox in some ancient societies, unsolved murders were thought to be a burden on the whole community (instead of a source of gossip or entertainment as we might use it today) so that this might have been a sort of stop valve to release that weight. I can't tell you if you're right or wrong though. Some things may become more apparent through discussion, but then again, those things that become apparent could still be incorrect. Everything you have said so far has been very insightful.

    Dauer
     
  12. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    As of now, I stand corrected. ;)


    v/r

    Q
     
  13. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    Dauer, I don't know my ass from a hole in the ground. :eek: :D

    I simply am a student, and grateful to be here.

    v/r

    Q
     
  14. Faithfulservant

    Faithfulservant New Member

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    Same.. I really appreciate this chance to learn.
     
  15. dauer

    dauer Active Member

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    I'm in the same boat as the two of you. That's why I wanted to start this project. I think it's a great opportunity to learn from each other in a way that usually doesn't happen. I especially am appreciating those moments when our own personal revelations (which are precious in their own right) give way to rich dialogue, which I'm hoping will only gain in its richness and depth as the weeks pass. The most basic Jewish model of study is to have two people looking over a text together; discussing, debating back and forth. When one gets stuck on something, it is more likely the other can fill in the blank. And vice versa. Based on my own experience I would actually suggest that even if someone says something that seems like it's fitting all of the pieces together, to be open to the possibility that it is still only one possible explanation. I only say this because I have heard some very, very good drashes, which are exegetical, homiletical explanations of the text. Upon looking at the text with the drash in mind, it might appear that the drash is actually the true meaning of the text, but in reality it's very likely not because the text itself, due to its nature (many gaps and such), often leaves room for many possible explanations to be found. I think my explanation about the kohanim being worried about becoming tamei (ritually impure is the usual translation) is a good explanation, but Quahom, I also think that your explanation is possible. Personally, I'm often less interested in finding "the" original meaning of the text than I am in finding meaning in the text, which is exactly what faithful servant did. And I would argue it's exactly what most people do, because most of us end up seeing the text through our own eyes. So then I start to ask myself, what have I gained by coming to an understanding that kohanim did not take part in this act because of the laws of tumah? I'm not sure. Tumah is usually a hard one. But I think I have learned something about the seriousness of unsolved murders. Sorry. I'm ranting.

    I want to take a step backwards now to an earlier section of the text. From Chapt 20.

    "19. When you besiege a city for many days to wage war against it to capture it, you shall not destroy its trees by wielding an ax against them, for you may eat from them, but you shall not cut them down. Is the tree of the field a man, to go into the siege before you?
    20. However, a tree you know is not a food tree, you may destroy and cut down, and you shall build bulwarks against the city that makes war with you, until its submission."

    Yes, the little dirty hippy in me picked this one.
     
  16. pohaikawahine

    pohaikawahine Elder Member

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    this all reminds me of deuteronomy 6:10 "and it shall come about when the lord your god brings you to the land he swore to your fathers .... great and goodly towns that you did not build, and houses filled with all good that you did not fill, and hewn cisterns that you did not hew, vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant, you will eat and be sated" which follows deuteronomy 6:4-9 which is enclosed in the 'tefillin' (which you wear like a sign upon they hand and a memorial between thein eyes) ...


    and now we have "crimes that you did not see" etc.... as far as I can tell the above reference, to me, has always been symbolic of solomon's temple, the human head (yes, I'm back to the head and the brain) .... the temple not built with human hands and a paradise filled with houses, hewn cisterns, vineyards and olive groves that you do not build, hew, or plant ..... so what is crime that one does not see ....

    the elders still make me think of the circle of twelve (in the brain) .... if you love the tales of king arthur and the knights of the round table, it would be the twelve knights ..... there are several ways to look at the concept of sacrafice (one I already mentioned having to do with and eye for an eye or atoning and letting go), the other has to do with the constellations of the ancient world .... whenever a constellation sets or falls below the horizon it is symbolized in myth as a "death" or a "sacrafice" .... so we have the elders and we have the "calf" and we have the "cities" (we look for the closest city) .... from which to choose the "calf" to be "sacraficed" ....

    the ancient astrolgers of babylon used triads, for sixes and for twelves, or three worlds .... if we take the sky circle and use our current measurement of 360 degrees, and divide it into twelve chief parts, each having three sections marked into tenths .... thirty degrees to each.... with the movement of the constellations we would look for the closest "city" (assuming you might call each section a city or something) in marking time and myth .... so we divide the territory into three, and again later we add another three ....

    well, the night sky is also a symbol for the inner night sky (if you were to look upward within your own head) .... as above, so below .... and we mark time, ritual and myth both externally and internally ....(in the ancient way of hawaii we use a term meaning 'the night rainbow') ....

    to me the use of words such as the "elders" and the "calf" and "sacrafice" can all be related to the inner world of the mind and its markings .... the "slain lamb at passover" is a similar use of words to describe the movement of a constellation at a particular juncture in the year (or the setting of a constellation) .... yet even with a description of the constellations there is still a deeper meaning related to the world of spirituality and the movement of energy within the human body ....

    in the south pacific you might hear a legend like this ".... the warrior from anguar, who went to save the people of peleliu, pretended to be washing his wounds in the ocean .... his lance would be hidden just beneath the water level .... and then the seven warriors in canoes from whevever appear on the horizon .... the story will go on until he slays all seven warriors and the people are saved .... this tells me that the star system of the "pleiades" (the seven stars) was rising (when the seven warriors appear) and is setting (when they are slain) ..... much of this type of knowledge was used in navigation and the night sky was superimposed on the dome of the inner sky, the skull ..... so you can see how I see the parallels in words that speak of twelve, sacrafice, etc..... the question I can't answer yet is what constellation or star system was symbolized in the "calf" .... then the next question will be how does this system in space relate to our inner world ..... he hawai'i au, pohaikawahine
     
  17. pohaikawahine

    pohaikawahine Elder Member

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    one more small post, then I have to leave for work or I'll be late ....


    i'm going to take you outside to another "santuary" .... that of the sanctuary of apollo at delphi .... from all over the ancient world kings and commoners traveled to delphi to ask the oracle of apollo about the right course of action .... they brought offerings to the god and were sent on their way by the priests with riddling answers .... yet over the entrance to the sanctuary was this statement "know thyself" .... the answers are found inside of each of us .... in a statement that I saw it said that the "Hebraic Talmud says 'we do not see things the way they are, we see things the way we are' " .... (it didn't give the exact reference) .... so again we have a sanctuary, we have offerings, but it all takes us back to an inner aspect of who we are .... each perspective is right, but together we can begin to see the whole puzzle and perhaps be able to understand the riddling answers ..... and then dauer we might find the one answer that brings it all together .... aloha nui, pohaikawahine
     
  18. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    From a military perspective (from which I am borne), this passage has an obvious lesson. However from a personal perspective the lesson here holds equally true.

    1. In order to lay siege to a city, the army must sustain itself, while draining the resources of the enemy. This is the battle of attritian. Laying siege to the enemy's city is a better way to beat the enemy than pitting force against force. However in order to sustain one's own army requires a steady supply line, or a readily available source of supply at hand. The latter is preferred. To use resources available for the wrong reasons or wrong goals, is a waste and places the besieger in roughly the same predicament as the besieged. In otherwords, use the right tools for the right job. Trees that bear fruit will sustain the army indefinitely, while the enemy behind walls starves and weakens. Trees that do not bear fruit are the right material for constructing mechanisms of battle in order to easily overcome the weakened defenses of the enemy.

    2. In everyday life, we find people, who are against us, but that we find by what ever circumstances, that we have them corralled. Now we have resources available to us that will allow us to be victorious over our opponent. But that victory depends on how wisely we use those resources. For example: People that are on our side, or sympathetic to us, are like trees that bear fruit. They back us, they agree with us, in short, they sustain us. But we would be most unwise to use them to go after the enemy. It would result in killing that sympathy or alliance, which in turn would weaken us, which levels the battle field, instead of allowing us to keep the advantage. Trees that do not bear fruit are neutral people, but usually in authority or in positions of power. (non-fruit bearing trees have the stronger wood). After sufficient time, and with the backing of the alliances we have (and after letting the our opponent weaken through a lack of resources), we then make use of those with authority or power to aid us in defeating our enemy.

    Personal experience: While serving at a unit as a division head, a supervisor and I had among other things, a personality conflict. I recognized this and had the advantage of being at the unit much longer than the supervisor, and had established my work ethic and competence at my job. However the supervisor immediately began to complain of my incompetence (because I would not comply with the demands which were ludicrous and unreasonable, as well as needlessly dangerous in certain cases). I did have sympathetic and understanding personnel both above and below my rank, however I never brought them into the fray. As days, weeks and months went by, the sympathy grew to the point were I was asked point blank "when are you going to do something about this?" I replied, when evaluation time came, and the supervisor showed the cards in hand, is when I would act (when it was all on paper).

    When that day came, the marks I recieved were not only substandard, they were so low that there was reason to have me forced from the service for gross incompetence. However, those in sympathy with me, quietly provided information on every job, every deed, every good thing I had done on and off duty. They provided information on things I'd never thought twice about (but they'd never forgot).

    When I went before the commanding officer to contest my low marks, the supervisor was there with a 3x4 inch memo pad, with things I did wrong. I had three folders 4 inches thick, with everything that I had accomplished within the marking period. The commanding officer took one look at the supervisor's evidence, then at mine. He asked me to leave, and the supervisor...he ordered to stay...

    An hour later a new evaluation sheet was presented to me (by the commanding officer). Out of 22 areas for marking, 20 were raised to the top. The commanding officer asked if I would accept this. I agreed. He apologized, and the supervisor was replaced by another one by the end of the day.

    That is why this passage Dauer, hit so close to home. Though I knew this passage, I never really thought about it, but subconsciously I must have taken its lesson to heart.

    Sorry for the long windedness. :rolleyes:

    v/r

    Q
     
  19. dauer

    dauer Active Member

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    I like that. One more example of why as many perspectives as possible is beneficial. I was wondering why the law stood for a siege specifically, because I had thought it was simply so that the fruit would be available once the battling was over. There is one odd statement:

    "Is the tree of the field a man, to go into the siege before you?"

    On one level it could be said that this is Moses speaking and so his words are going to be like the words of a man. But on another level, these words are included in the Torah. So why is this sentence included if its basic meaning seems to have already been conveyed by the text? What meaning is contained within this extra sentence that would otherwise leave this passage incomplete?

    From where I am right now, I would actually say that this is the heart of the passage. Not only is it central in its placement, but it is the only phrase out of the entire passage that has any heart at all. The rest of it is technical, but this one is crying from the parchment. The rest of it is commanding, lecturing. But this engages: it questions. Fox renders it, "for are the trees of the field human beings, (able) to come against you in a seige?"

    And it raises another question too! Is the tree of the field like an "Adam", that it is (able) to come against us in a seige? I don't think it is, but if we come against the trees in a siege, against everything connected to Adamah, then the seige against mankind begins.

    Dauer
     
  20. Dondi

    Dondi Active Member

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    Funny you should mention Adam. I was thinking in term of the garden of Eden when I read this section. Perhaps the Promised Land that the Israelites are entering is a metaphor for the garden of Eden. Maybe God wants to preserve the good (fruitful trees) and rid of the bad (non-fruitful trees). It is as if God is wanting Israel to claim back that which was lost in the fall. The fields are virgin, pure, eden like. the non-fruitbearing trees are like the briars and thorns that Adam had to tend to after the fall.
     
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