Our view of the Galile

Thursday, August 4, 2016

No Questions Asked- Masei 5776 / 2016

Insights and Inspiration
from the
Holy Land
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"

August 5th 2016 -Volume 6, Issue 44 1st Av 5776
Parshat Masei

No Questions Asked
“Are we almost there yet???”
 “How much longer will it be?”
“When are we going to get there already???”
Every parent’s favorite question to be asked generally twenty minutes or so upon embarking on a three hour trip. Usually that is followed with an “I have to go to the bathroom” or He’s/She’s touching me… Fun, fun, fun…There’s nothing like quality family time cooped up in a car together for a few hours. Who remembers the good old days packing everyone in the old station wagon, with a few kids in the ‘spaceship’-my father’s ingenious way of making us want to sit in the back-back before the world realized that this was very very dangerous. We barely had air conditioning, the 8-track cassette player would inevitably get broken, and my mother would have us play I-spy or some find the license plate game. Sure we fought and sure we asked the traditional how-much-longer questions. But they were simpler times. We didn’t even dream that there would be a day when we would be able to watch movies in the car on a tablet, with our own personalized climate control and listen to songs on our own little pocket headphones. But if we had dreamed of that, I’m sure we would never think that we would ever complain about our trips. That we would ever ask how much longer it would be. We probably wouldn’t even need to go to the bathroom or eat. Yet whadaya know? They still ask. The questions it seems are eternal ones. Will they ever end? And there I go again.
The truth is as a tour guide I get this question more often than then the usual family traveler. That’s because I pretty much do this every day with families. There are some kids that are a bit shy to ask me the question for the first 20 minutes or so. So they ask their parents who would never answer that question in their own cars or family trips. Parents learn very quickly that the question is a rhetorical one. The child is not asking for a time frame so they can plan out the rest of their day. They are merely figuring out how much is kvetching is necessary to aggravate the parent, and whether they should immediately start the kvetching or space it out meaningfully over the next undisclosed period of time. Yet when it is on a tour bus, the parents seem to forget their role, and quickly and immediately pass the question on to the tour guide to answer. I of course do not fall into that trap. I give my father’s sagely answer. “We will get there when we get there.” But… But…. But… But when will that be?” the persistent continue to ask. “It will be when we get there. Not a second before or a second after. Exactly when we get there.”  And so the tour continues. They don’t know if its worth kvetching or not. They certainly aren’t dreading or trying to figure out how long this may be. They appreciate that they are in for the ride and may as well have fun as we travel and the journey continues.
We sing songs, I point out things, I tell stories, make jokes and before you know it we are here. OK some of them just stick their headphones back in and go to sleep. But that’s just the parents J The kids at least I have engaged. At least till the next time we get back in the car.
This week’s Torah portion called Masei begins with the travels of the Jewish people; our family trip of forty years in the wilderness. One wonders how many times the children asked ‘how much longer?’ The forty nine verses that recount our 42 different travels and encampments over the forty years do not recall any of the incredible incidents that took place during those 40 years. No mention of the giving of the Torah, the sin of the golden calf, the spies, Korach, Bilam. Nothing at all. Just names and places. There is one glaring and perplexing exception though. Three entire verses that tell us of one seemingly minor incident. Bamidbar (33:37-40)
“And they traveled from Kadesh and he camped at Har Hahar at the edge of the land of Edom. And Aharon the Kohen went up to Har HaHar by the mouth of Hashem and he died there in the fortieth year from the children of Israel going out of Egypt”
Yes. The death of Aharon is the only incident that the Torah felt it was necessary to mention. But it does not just end with his death. The Torah continues and tells us when this took place
“In the fifth month on the first of the month, And Aharon was 123 years old when he died on Har Hahar.”
In case you’re not familiar with the Jewish calendar that is the first of the month of Av. In other words today is the yahrzeit of Aharon. Not only is it today, but each year the Parsha of Masei is always read on the week of his yahrzeit. We even caught up with you slow-pokes in America and the diaspora in honor of the yahrzeit. Incidentally this is the only person in the entire Torah that the Torah explicitly tells us when he died. It doesn’t tell us when Adam died, not Avraham, not Moshe, not any of the 12 tribes. Just Aharon. Strange.
The Torah then continues
“And the Canaani the king of Arad herad and he dwelled in the south of the land of Canaan whne the children of Israel came”
Rashi notes that this is coming to tell us that the death of Aharon is what he heard, and that {as a result of that} the clouds of glory had departed and he thought that it was given permission to battle Israel.
Why Aharon? Why is this the only incident? What is the significance of telling us about this particular reason for Canaan attacking us? We had many nations attacking us in the wilderness, many battles.

The Midrash Yalkut Shimoni goes at length to describe the death of Aharon. Hashem commands Moshe to tell Aharon of his impending death and Moshe engages in Aharon in a discussion about his death. He asks him how he feels that because of the sin of Adam death was instituted in the world. Aharon responded that it is the decree of Hashem and we must accept it. Moshe continued asking him and if Hashem decreed that you must die in a hundred years how would you feel. He said I would accept the judgement. And if he said it would be today? Aharon responded that he would bless the Dayan Emet- the True Judge who thus decreed. Moshe then took him up the mountain. The Midrash describes how the angels in heaven clamored at the sight. Hashem pointed out the similarity of the scene to none other than the binding of Yitzchak. Just as there Avraham brings his son up. Yitzchak and Avaraham both know that he is going to his death and he accepts without questions. He stretches out his neck. He is ready to accept the will of his creator. No questions asked.

Aharon as well goes up. With him is his younger brother Moshe and his son Elazar. Moshe removes his clothing, he places them on his son. Yet there are no questions. Aharon is one with his Creator. Aharon ends his career just as he began his career. Remember back in Egypt. Aharon was certainly the leader and the future of the Jewish people, yet when his younger brother Moshe returns. His brother who was raised in an Egyptian house. His brother who had fled the country for forty years and married the daughter of a Midianite priest. Aharon not only steps down, he accepts and greets Moshe with love and joy for his brother who would be taking the role of leadership. No questions asked.

Later on perhaps the high moment of our history the day that the tabernacle is dedicated and his two children are killed by a heavenly fire. The Torah tells us two words about Aharon. Vayidom Aharon- and Aharon is silent. He accepted the world of his Creator. He appreciate and is perhaps the greatest teacher of the idea that we ae mere travelers in this world. In His world. Whatever happens is because Hashem is leading us. He’s the tour guide. Our job is not to question, rather it is to be from the students of Aharon as our Pirkey Avot teaches us. To be lovers of peace. To see in each human being a fellow journeyer. Someone we can bring close to our Father in heaven. A way of life that removes all personal agenda and that lives in harmony with our Creator and with one another.
The Torah reiterates the story of our journey in the wilderness, Rashi in the beginning of the Torah portion tells us to teach us that Hashem is the one that is leading us like a father leads his son and is bringing him back from being healed. Our wanderings Rashi notes are divided into our leaving of Egypt until the spies 14 travels, 20 travels over the next 38 years and 8 travels after the death of Aharon. The death of Aharon is the transformation point. It is when our journey leaves the clouds of glory and yet we have learned and are able to stand on our own faith. The yahrzeit and passing of Aharon on the month of Av gave us that power of faith. The mourning for his death and the subsequent commitment to maintaining his legacy is the power that is just as potent as the clouds of glory. For they are the ultimate clouds of glory. The sukkat shalom -the tents of peace that unite and protect us.
The Canaani thought we had lost it. They reacted. Their job-as our sages tell us they were really Amalekites were to create doubt. To ask questions. How much longer? Will you survive? Yet out journey continued just as before. With Hashem leading us. With the faith that Aharon had embedded to us forever in our hearts and souls. And that journey still continues today. We enter the saddest month of the year of Av with the death of Aharon and the reading of his death. As we prepare and even escalate our level of mourning, we are meant to find hope and see redemption in that mourning. On Tisha B’Av every year we recount all of the tragedies of the Jewish people throughout the millennia since our Temples were destroyed. We don’t question. We don’t accuse. We cry. We mourn and we recognize that we ae being led on a journey ultimately back to our home. Back to His Temple. That is the legacy of Aharon. May we see that ultimate journey reach its final glorious conclusion this year.

Have an uplifting Shabbat and a blessed new month of Av
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz


https://youtu.be/pyBxhWg0dFk   Trailer of cool moive called the Stone about Tish B’Av

https://youtu.be/5YEpV0dv1Mc   – Incredible Inspirational story of Vinnie the car attendant


“Der mentsh lernt fri tzu redn un shpet tzu shvaygn”-. A human being learns to speak early and to keep silent late


Here is where Reb Shimon sat and here is where Reb Elazar his son sat and her was Rabbi Abba and here Rabbi Yehuda and you my talmidim are the sparks of these holy sages.”

“Who would like to go with me to Jerusalem and greet Mashiach?”

“Before a person goes to offer up prayers he should accept upon himself the mitzva to love his fellow Jew as himself. This will enable his prayer to rise p entwine with the prayers off lf all of Israel. Most significantly is the love between those who study Torah. Each member of the group should consider themselves like the limb of a whole body. He should be aware of his friend’s souls. If any member is in trouble all should join in his pain and pray for them”-

Rav Yitzchak Luria- The AriZ”L 5th Av  this Tuesday (1534-1572)-
I often tell my tourists as we tour the city of Tzfat and the Ari Synagougue there that traditional Judaism as we know it today can be divided up into two periods of time; pre- Ari and post- Ari. We live in a post Ari world. The Ari transformed Judaism as we know it. One can just look through the Jewish year from Tashlich on Rosh Hashana, to Ushpizin on Sukkot, Hoshana Rabba as a day of judgement, the dancing on Simchat Torah, Tu B’Shvat, Seder plate, Lag Ba’Omer, Shavuot night and the custom each Friday night of Kabbalat Shabbat all were started with the Ari. Who was this great individual?
Rabbi Isaac Halevi Luria has become famous as the "Ari," the holy lion; Ari represents the initials of “Adoneinu or Ashkenazi Rabbi Isaac/or Yitzchak” As his name indicates, his family originally lived in Germany, whence they had wandered to Jerusalem. There the man was born who was to play a magnificent role not only in that century of spiritual and cultural revolutions, but down to our very days.
At a very early age Rabbi Isaac Luria lost his father and he went to Cairo, Egypt, where Mordecai Frances, the rich brother of his mother took care of his upbringing and education. He attended the Yeshiva of Rabbi David ben Zimri, the Chief Rabbi of Egypt, known as the author of many great commentaries and responsa under the name of Radbaz. The brilliant youngster became one of the close disciples of the Radbaz, and his studies of the Talmud early promoted him to heights of scholarly achievements. The only extant product of his work in Gemara and Halachah, is a commentary to Zevachim. When Rabbi Mordecai Frances saw the great success of his young nephew, he gave him his daughter as a wife and assured him of sufficient means for a livelihood.
Yet the deep and introspective nature of Rabbi Isaac Luria was not satisfied by the study of Halachah alone. He acquired knowledge of Kabbala and devoted his entire life to its study and dissemination. At an early age he began his long stays in the solitude of the Nile River. For seven long years he lived all by himself, immersed in the study of the "Zohar," the main work of Kabbala, and other minor Kabbalistic writings, and returned only once a week, on Shabbos, to his family in Cairo. Possessed of a fiery and noble soul, he was wholly attracted to the universe of deeper wisdom and sought the meaningful interpretation of all phases of life, nature, and prayer. He spent many days in fast, prayer and study. In his tireless efforts to penetrate the inner chambers of the Torah, he discovered much of the true meaning of the Jewish faith. He was able to work out a whole system of a Kabbalistic doctrine on the world, and on the role of the Torah and its commandments in the life of man.
Filled with the fire of inspiration and enthusiasm, he set out to cleanse the world of the spirit of impurity and to replace the rule of evil by the recognition of G‑d. About the year 1569, he took his family and migrated to Jerusalem and from there to Tzfat, the center of all study and practice of Kabbala. Soon a large group of disciples gathered about him and listened to his interpretations of the deeper meaning of all happenings and occurrences in the world. More and more men flocked to him and accepted the tenets of a holy and ascetic life which the Ari Hakodosh set down as a necessary requirement for participation in the circle of his followers. Under his inspired guidance, prayer assumed a deeper meaning, since the significance of each word and phrase was interpreted by him. The fast days and holidays turned into genuine turning points of religious life, and the Shabbos became the pivot of holy experience and inspiration, for it was devoted exclusively to spiritual activity. Each Sabbath meal, filled with songs of holy content, many of them written and composed by the Ari Hakodosh himself, was an offering to G‑d, and the Melaveh Malkeh represented a stirring tribute to the departing Sabbath.
In such and similar manner, most aspects of the Jewish life and faith were given new content and color. Rabbi Isaac Luria's teachings were spread wide and far and reached all corners of the world, wherever Jews had settled. Amongst the most ardent exponents of the Ari's teachings was his disciple and successor to the leadership of the Kabbalists, Rabbi Chaim Vital. Rabbi Chaim Vital recorded the revelations and explanations of his great master, and they were among the most printed books in those early days of the printing press.
 The Ari died at the age of thirty-eight years, mourned by the entire Jewish people. Despite his short life, he left an indelible impression on religious Jewish life and religious reaching. He introduced many holy Minhagim (customs) which have become part and parcel of our customs and services. His songs and prayers have been widely adopted and partially incorporated into the Siddur. Entire communities guide themselves by the "Nusach Ha’Ari"-Interestingly enough it is most similar to the Nusach HaGra of the Gaon of Vilna and much of his teachings has been used to form the basis of the great Chassidic movement. Due to his influence and inspiration Judaism was able to withstand the onslaughts of many creeds and ideas that were promoted during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. He certainly counts among the holiest and most important leaders of the Jewish people.

answer below at end of Email
For which of the following is a security clearance and co-ordination required?
A.    Har Karkom
B.  The Temple Mount
C.  Tel Shiloh 
D.  Har Tzfachot

We’ve noted in the past that Rashi’s commentary is to explain the simple understanding of the text. In addition Rashi will only bring what is necessary for that explanation. Yet throughout our generations many scholars have examined every word of Rashi and quote and found a deeper inner meaning. Sometimes that can be found even in the simple fact that Rashi quotes a name-which he does not always do- and the way he quotes it.
In this week’s portion the first Rashi explains the reason why all the travels of the Jewish people are mentioned. He first quotes the interpretation of Rabbi Moshe HaDarshan his teacher that the reason is to teach us the kindness of Hashem, that although it was decreed that we would wander for forty years in the wilderness, for thirty eight of the years we were pretty much camped in one place.
Then Rashi brings an additional pshat-
And Rabbi Tanchuma derived another drasha- This can be compared to King who’s son was sick and he took him to a faraway place to heal him. Once they started back the father started to count all of the journeys. He said to his son ‘Here we slept’ ‘Here we were cold’ ‘Here you had a headache’ etc…”
Now seemingly the reason for Rashi bringing this is to tell us and share with us not just a simple understanding in the pshat that is lacking in the first interpretation. Rather it is to encourage us to find a deeper appreciation of the reiteration of each place. There is a tradition from the Baal Shem Tov that each journey that is mentioned is a different journey that each Jew must travel on his own personal quest from our own Egypt (narrow straits) to arriving to our Divine destination. Rashi brings three instances thus each instance is significant in that matter. There are places that we are sleeping together with our heavenly Father- We are one and united along our journey. There are times that we feel cold- we are lacking that spiritual warmth and holy fire. We are distant. And there are places where are head hurts. Where we feel the pain of that distance from that which is above us.
On a deeper level Chasidim explain that the journey to a far place to get healed is the soul’s journey from its heavenly abode to the far place of this world where it is meant to achieve its purpose of uniting with its Creator. What is also fascinating is that Rashi quotes this as an interpretation of Rabbi Tanchuma- The name Tanchuma comes from the root word nechoma- consolation. This Torah portion is always read the week that the month of Av begins- the month that is known as Menachem Av- the Consolation of Av- or Father. How appropriate is it that when we read this Torah portion or this “other drasha” of the Rabbi called ‘consolation’ that teaches us that Hashem does all that he does for us like a Father a King who is bringing his son home after healing him from his sickness. That He is with us in all our journeys. What an amazing Rashi to point that out to us.

SS Exodus arrives in Palestine- 1st Av July 4th 1187- Bom Bom….Bom Bom….BomBom Bombom Bombom.. It is hard to write out a song notes. But for those old timers like myself it is the beginning of the theme song of the movie exodus. (now go back and read it again). That great movie although it was a bit Hollywoodized inspired many to Zionism after this great story of the illegal immigration to Israel that took place this week. In a nutshell for those that haven’t seen the movie.
After World War II, millions of Europeans were living under guard and behind barbed wire fences and without adequate medical care and other services in "displaced persons" camps within Germany and Austria. The Hagana organized to illegally smuggle thousands of Jews from the camps to be sent to Palestine by ship. This was part of what was known as Aliyah Bet or the "second immigration. The boats were largely staffed by sympathetic volunteers from the United States, Canada and Latin America. Over 100,000 people tried to illegally immigrate to Palestine, as part of Aliyah Bet.
The British, who were then responsible for administering Palestine, vehemently opposed this kind of large-scale immigration. The British reaffirmed the pre-war policy of the White Paper restricting Jewish immigration to Palestine which had been put in place following the influx of a quarter of a million Jews fleeing the rise of Nazism in the 1930s and had been a major cause of the Arab revolt of 1936–1939. The British prepared a massive naval and military force to turn back the refugees. Over half of 142 voyages were stopped by British patrols, and most intercepted immigrants were sent to internment camps in Cyprus, the Atlit detention camp in Palestine, and to Mauritius. About 50,000 people ended up in camps, more than 1,600 drowned at sea, and only a few thousand actually entered Palestine.
The Exodus 1947 was the largest Aliyah Bet ship carrying the largest-ever number of illegal immigrants to Palestine and its name and story received a lot of international attention. The incident was arguably one of the final straws to break the British and caused them to withdraw its forces and the state of Israel was established.
On November 9, 1946, the Haganah bought the SS President Warfield in response to the British decision to begin deporting illegal immigrants to Cyprus rather than Atlit, whereupon it was decided immigrants should begin resisting capture. The President Warfield was well-suited for that, because it was fast, sturdy enough to not easily overturn, made of steel which would help it withstand ramming, and was taller than the British destroyers which would be trying to board it. The ship was also chosen because of its derelict condition. It was risky to put passengers on it and it was felt this would compel the British to let it pass blockade because of this danger or put the British in a bad light internationally. The ship was renamed the Exodus after the biblical Jewish exodus from Egypt to Canaan.
The Exodus left February 25, 1947 and headed for the Mediterranean. It was carrying 4,515 passengers including 1,600 men, 1,282 women, and 1,672 children and teenagers. During the journey, the people on the Exodus prepared to be intercepted. The ship was loaded with enough supplies to last two weeks. Passengers were given cooked meals, hot drinks, soup, and one liter of drinking water daily. They did their washing in salt water. The ship had only 13 lavatories. Several babies were born during the week-long journey.
The British finally boarded the ship on 18 July the 1st of Av, some 20 nautical miles from the Palestinian shore. Boarding it was difficult, and was challenged by the passengers and Haganah members on board. One crew member died after being clubbed and two passengers died of gunshot wounds. About ten Exodus passengers and crew were treated for mild injuries resulting from the boarding, and about 200 were treated for illnesses and maladies unrelated to it.
Due to the high profile of the Exodus 1947 emigration ship it was decided by the British government that the emigrants were to be deported back to France. When the ships arrived at near Marseilles on August 2, the French Government said it would allow disembarkation of the passengers only if it was voluntary on their part. Haganah agents, both on board the ships and using launches with loudspeakers, encouraged the passengers not to disembark. Thus the emigrants refused to disembark and the French refused to cooperate with British attempts at forced disembarkation. This left the British with the best option of returning the passengers to Germany. Realizing that they were not bound for Cyprus, the emigrants conducted a 24-hour hunger strike and refused to cooperate with the British authorities.
But the British government had no intention of backing down or relaxing its policy. Media coverage of the contest of wills put pressure on the British to find a solution. The matter also came to the attention of the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) members who had been deliberating in Geneva. After three weeks, during which time the prisoners on the ships held steady in difficult conditions, rejecting offers of alternative destinations, the ships were sailed to of all places Hamburg, Germany, which was then in the British occupation zone.
By the time they had docked at Hamburg, many of the refugees were in a defiant mood. When they first set out on their historic quest, they had believed they were days away from arriving at a Jewish homeland. For many of the Holocaust survivors, it was almost impossible to bear. The British ordered one hundred military police and 200 soldiers to board the ship and eject the Jewish immigrants. The storming of the ship, left up to 33 Jews, including four women, injured in the fighting. Sixty-eight Jews were held in custody to be put on trial for unruly behavior. The officer who head the charge noted “It should be borne in mind that the guiding factor in most of the actions of the Jews is to gain the sympathy of the world press.” When the people walked off the ship, many of them, especially younger people, were shouting to the troops 'Hitler commandos', 'gentleman fascists', 'sadists'.
The treatment of the refugees at the camps caused an international outcry after it was claimed that the conditions could be likened to German concentration camps. The Jewish allegations of cruel and insensitive treatment would not go away and on 6 October 1947 the Foreign Office sent a telegram to the British commanders in the region demanding to know whether the camps really were surrounded with barbed wire and guarded by German staff. The endless PR battle against the British eventually worked.. Most of the passengers successfully reached Palestine by the time of the Israeli Declaration of Independence. Of the 4,500 would-be immigrants to Palestine there were only 1,800 remaining in the two Exodus camps by April 1948. And thus the State of Israel was born

Yankel feels all lucky that he is at the Super bowl game. This is the most sold out game of the year.
He had been sacicng up and waiting for years and managed to get best seats in the front row. But as he sat down he noticed that there's an empty seat in the row behind them. When intermission comes and no one has sat in that seat, He notices it’s his friend Berel sitting next to the empty seat and asks, "I hate to bother you but I was wondering why that seat is empty."
The woman says, "That's my late wife's seat."
Yankel is horrified and apologises for being so insensitive. But a few minutes later, he turns around again.
"Without meaning to be rude or anything, this is an incredibly hard game to get into. Surely you must have a friend or a relative who would have wanted to come and see the show?"
Berel nods, but explains, "They're all at the shiva."

Maurice was a good, well-respected elderly Boro Park man. He felt that death was close and asked his sons to take him to the Holy Land, to die there and be buried in Jerusalem.
The loving sons did as he asked, brought him to Jerusalem, put him in a hospital and waited for death to come. However, once in Jerusalem Maurice started to feel better and better and after a few weeks was again strong, healthy and full of life.
He called upon his sons and said: "Quickly, take me back to Boro Park."
The sons were somehow disappointed and asked: "Father, how come? You said you want to die in the Holy Land and be buried in Jerusalem!'
"Yes," answered Maurice, to die it's OK but to live here....!?"

Shlomo goes to Doctor Lewis for a check up. After extensive tests Doctor Lewis tells him, "I'm afraid I have some bad news for you. You only have six months to live."
Shlomo is dumbstruck. After a while he replies, "That's terrible doctor. But I must admit to you that I can't afford to pay your bill."
"Ok," says Doctor Lewis, "I'll give you a year to live."
Arnold had reached the age of 105 and suddenly stopped going to synagogue.
Worried by Arnold's absence after so many years of faithful attendance, his Rabbi went to see him. He found him in excellent health, so the Rabbi asked, "How come after all these years we don't see you at services anymore?"
Arnold looked around and lowered his voice. "I'll tell you, Rabbi," he whispered. "When I got to be 90, I expected God to take me any day. But then I got to be 95, then 100, then 105. So I figured that God is very busy and must have forgotten about me and I don't want to remind him."

Answer is A – None of these places are necessarily the most friendly of places, yet only one of them require coordination with the army because it is a live shooting range firing zone. The Temple Mount is open to visit yet it is the only place in the world that a Jew is forbidden by law to pray there- how’s that for our Jewish country? Shilo the site of where our tabernacle was in the Shomron is actually a beautiful place and very historic but the roads there are not necessarily always friendly. Tzfachot in Eilat is a glorious mountain from where one can see into four countries; Israel, Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, not necessarily a place to go to is you are scared of heights though.- Just ask my Rebbetzin J. Which of course leaves Karkom in the Negev not far from Sinai as being the site which requires clearance from the army to go there. It’s definitely not a very accessible site and can be a few day hike to the mountain which some archeologists say is Mt. Sinai or the mountain where God passed before Moshe while he was hidden in the rock. It is also a place where many interesting rocks with all types of engraved pictures that resemble the tablets or the altar or the burning bush have been found.

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