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A Response to the Parkland Shooting

A Response to the Parkland Shooting

Setting aside for a moment the immediate reaction of the media about policy, let’s first try to understand this heinous act for what it is — evil. True, countries need militaries, homes need protection, cities police, and all schools should have armed guards and metal detectors because there will always be outliers who escape the law and order.  Obviously, the shooter should be locked away for life or punished capitally (which is worse?). Obviously, there should be heavy consequences for the authorities…

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Getting Motivated

Getting Motivated

Part 2 of the Rebbe’s ma’amer Ani Ledodi 5732 (1972). Read Part 1 here. Approximately 8 minutes to read. In Elul the king is in the field—G-d is available for us to approach. Now is a time for personal stocktaking, introspection, and a sincere change of heart from our less than positive behavior. In the previous installment, our ma’amer asked several questions: If Elul is the time when “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine,” — a time…

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Forgiveness

Forgiveness

Is it ever too late to resolve personal differences? What would you do if someone had done something to hurt you and then asked for forgiveness? What if someone you care deeply about did something to you that hurt you? Would you forgive them? How many times?   This is Part One of the Rebbe’s ma’amer Ani Ledodi Vedodi Li, 5732 (1972). Find Part Two here. “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine,” the first letter of each word…

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Not Just What You Do, But Who You Are

Not Just What You Do, But Who You Are

Who are you? What does it mean to “be me”? What is a Jew? When the King, G-d, awaits us in the field during Elul, He expresses His true self, not just His majesty. This gives us a chance to learn who we are. In Part Four of Ani L’dodi, we discover that there’s more to us than just our human cognition, feelings, and drives—there’s our real self! This is Part Four of Five of our Elul series, the ma’amer Ani L’dodi 5726…

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He Awaits you, Wherever You Are

He Awaits you, Wherever You Are

Often, the process is greater than the goal. A lot of us struggle with having clear goals and attaining them. Usually, this is because we tend to be near-sighted; only noticing the immediate struggle and the grind of being consistent. How can we be expected to have a meaningful Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur? How can we ensure that we stick to the resolutions we make? Elul is coming, and we have the opportunity to come face-to-face with G-d Himself….

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He Doesn’t Wake You, He Waits For You

He Doesn’t Wake You, He Waits For You

During Elul, G-d isn’t inspiring us, but He’s intriguing us. He’s preparing us to be inspired. In the second part of “Ani L’dodi,” the Rebbe sheds light on the notion that there’s more to a king than just his awe inspiring persona. There’s the king himself. But how do we go about accessing the king, G-d, Himself?   This is Part Two of Five Part One: Elul—Being Proactive Part Three: He Awaits you, Wherever You Are Part Four: Not Just What You…

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Elul—Being Proactive

Elul—Being Proactive

  Have you ever experienced difficulty feeling inspired on the High Holidays? The entire month before Rosh HaShanah, Elul is traditionally known as the time to spiritually ready ourselves for the Days of Awe. In this ma’amer, the Rebbe sets forth a clear plan to develop a relationship with G-d during Elul, so we feel ready when the High Holidays come around.   Part one of five of the ma’amer Ani L’dodi, 5726 (1966) Part Two: He Doesn’t Wake You, He…

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It’s All About Love

It’s All About Love

What is the most efficient way to drive out negativity from the world as a whole? Doesn’t overly focusing on just refuting negativity feel dispiriting? In Part Three of the ma’amer “Bila Hamoves Lanetzach” (find Parts One and Two here), the Rebbe sheds light on the idea of negating evil by analyzing how we respond to the negativity that’s within our consciousness. The best way to understand the world’s relationship with G-d is by understanding our relationship with Him.  …

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Greater Than Anything Before

Greater Than Anything Before

What is true peace? How can life, love and Holiness win in a world that has war, death, and evil? Human wisdom falls short attempting to answer questions that people have had since the beginning of time. In a ma’amer delivered in 1965, the Rebbe provides a fresh perspective from the lens of Torah. Ma’amer Bila HaMovess LoNetzach Part Two Find Part One here. In the future, when Moshiach comes, evil (the source of spiritual and physical death) will be…

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Beyond Good and Evil

Beyond Good and Evil

Beyond Good and Evil Why is there death in the world? Why do bad things happen to good people? How can G-d allow evil to exist? These are probably the most powerful and most difficult questions that challenge faith. No one wise would claim to know the answer and no one who has experienced pain and rose above it can answer. Few have the knowledge, sensitivity, and courage to tackle such questions. The Lubavitcher Rebbe, in his ma’amer delivered in…

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Pleasure and Fear

Pleasure and Fear

Love, Not War Whether or not you have kids, it may have crossed your mind what kind of Judaism you want to give them. There are as many varieties of Judaism as there are Jews — probably more! We all know the perils of parents who force religion “down their kids’ throat.” No one likes them. Their children resent them — and if their kids turn out frum, it’s despite the forceful parenting. On the other hand, children need to be…

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Smaller Is Better

Smaller Is Better

How rich must we be to be satisfied? How confident must we be to feel successful? How great must we be to become leaders? You probably think you know the answer… This edition of The Long Short Way covers the second part of the seventh chapter of the Frierdiker Rebbe’s ma’amer, Basi Legani from 5710 (1950). Basi LeGani is a series of four ma’amorim, the second, HaYosheves BeGanim, includes the chapter we learn this year. This ma’amer was distributed on 13…

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Leading Humbly

Leading Humbly

How does being small make me big? How can being a receiver make me a giver? What makes a leader? This edition of The Long Short Way covers part of the seventh chapter of the Frierdiker Rebbe’s ma’amer, Basi LeGani from 5710 (1950). Basi LeGani is a series of four ma’amorim, the second, HaYosheves BeGanim, includes this year’s chapter. This ma’amer was distributed on 13 Shvat, the yohrtzeit of the Frierdiker Rebbe’s mother. Download the PDF here. In the previous…

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A War On Spirit

A War On Spirit

What are we celebrating on Chanukah? What was the Greeks’ issue with the Jewish people? This edition of The Long Short Way covers an excerpt of the Rebbe’s ma’amer, Tonu Rabbonon Mitzvas Ner Chanukah, from Parshas Mikeitz, 5738 (1978). This ma’amer was distributed with its sequel in honor of Chanukah, 5747 (1987). Download the PDF here.   A War On Spirit       The Greeks defiled the oil in the Heichal of the Beis HaMikdosh as an act of…

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Real Triumph

Real Triumph

  What is the Torah’s relevance to the real worlds? What role does Chassidus play? How does Torah refine the world? This edition of The Long Short Way covers an excerpt of the Rebbe’s ma’amer, Podoh V’Sholom 5741 (1980). This ma’amer was said and distributed in honor of 10 Kislev, the birthday and yohrtzeit of the Mittler Rebbe. Download the PDF   Real Triumph       These questions can be answered from both a physical and spiritual perspective. At…

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Shifting Our Gaze

Shifting Our Gaze

If I’m able to make up a missed mitzvah, why do I need to do mitzvos every day? Open parts one, two, three, and four in a new tab. Download the PDF here.   Shifting Our Gaze       The purpose of Torah and mitzvos is to refine and cleanse the material world.   ח) אַךְ הָעִנְיָן הוּא, דְהִנֵה יָדוּעַ שְׁהַתַּכְלִית דְתּוֹרָה וּמִצְווֹת הוּא לִפְעוֹל בִּירוּר וְזִיכוּךְ בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶה הַגַשְׁמִי.   Most people live a lifestyle —or want to live a lifestyle—based on their…

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Handle With Care

Handle With Care

Handle With Care What is the role of human effort? Can my life relate to G-d’s? This is part four of a series on the Rebbe’s ma’amer, V’Avrohom Zokein, 5738 (1977), from Parshas Chayei Sara. Open part one, two and part three in a new tab. View and download the PDF here. ו) וְיֵשׁ לוֹמַר בְּדֶרֶךְ אֶפְשָׁר דְהַגַם שְׁהִזְדַכְּכוּת הַתּוֹרָה וּמִצְווֹת וְהַעֲלָאתָן לְמַעֲלָה נַעֲשָׂה עַל יְדֵי הַמַלְאָכִים, מִכָּל מָקוֹם, מִכֵּיוָן שְׁתַּכְלִית הַשְׁלֵימוּת דְכָל עִנְיָן הוּא כַּאֲשֶׁר הוּא נַעֲשֶׂה עֲל יְדֵי עַבוֹדַת הָאָדָם (וְלָכֵן…

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Shoulders of Giants

Shoulders of Giants

On the Shoulders of Giants How far does human effort reach? Is it even possible for a person to communicate with the infinite G-d? The ultimate self-made man is limited by his efforts to succeed—then what is effort for? This is part three of a series on the Rebbe’s ma’amer, V’Avrohom Zokein, 5738 (1977), from Parshas Chayei Sara. Open part one and two in a new tab. View and download the PDF here (for iPhone, here). ד) וְהִנֵה מְצַד הַהִתְלַבְּשׁוּת דְתּוֹרָה…

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Private Screening

Private Screening

Why should we be consistent? What difference does it make if I do or don’t do mitzvos? I won’t be the first and I won’t be the last? Summary of part one: This ma’amer is based on the verse “And Avraham became old, advanced in age (bo bayomim).” “Bo bayomim,” literally means, “entered into days,” meaning that all of Avraham’s days were complete and full. The Zohar explains that Avraham entered into the “supernal days,” meaning that his time became holy. Time—like anything…

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Let’s Be Windows

Let’s Be Windows

Let’s Be Windows Why do we need to do mitzvos everyday? Can’t the mitzvah be done tomorrow? Can I do a whole bunch of mitzvos today and not do any tomorrow? This is the first installment of the Rebbe’s ma’amer, V’Avraham Zokein 5738 (1977). This ma’amer was said in the Rebbe’s room and was published on motzoey Shabbos Parshas Chayei Sarah. Download the PDF here.      בְּסִיּיַתָּא דִשְׁמַיָא. מוֹצָאֵי שַׁבָּת פַּרְשַׁת חַיֵי שָׂרָה, מְבָרְחִים הַחֹדֶשׁ כִּסְלֵו – בְּחֲדָרוֹ –…

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Joy: The Long Short Way

Joy: The Long Short Way

This is an updated version of the essay that sparked The Long Short Way over a year ago. It happened when Rabbi Simon Jacobson, a while after his My Life: Chassidus Applied videos came out, made an essay contest to encourage people to tackle an issue head-on. I didn’t win or even come close, but the idea stuck with me. Joy: The Long Short Way Download the PDF here. Many wonder what the key is to happiness. Is happiness really an “inalienable…

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Internalizing a Mission

Internalizing a Mission

Moshe Rabbeinu said the book of Devorim from his own accord to the Jewish people. Our Rabbis tell us, that this book is, “mipi atzmo,” from Moshe himself. Moshe Rabbeinu internalized Hashem’s transmission so well, that the Torah he gave over was also Torah and included in the Five Books of Moses. From the second portion of the parsha, we see that Moshe Rabbeinu attributed the appointment of leader and judges to himself. However, in parshas Yisro, we see that it was Yisro’s…

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Infinity in 40 Years

Infinity in 40 Years

The more personal the more relatable. Moshe Rabbeinu said the book of Devorim from his own accord. That is, Moshe Rabbeinu taught the Torah over from his own understanding based on how deeply integrated it had become with his mind. Accordingly, we can know why this sefer, the fifth book of the Torah, was said at the 40th year. This was complete exposure of the entirety of Torah. The way the Torah was understood by Moshe Rabbeinu caused that it should be understood by the…

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The Road to Perdition is Paved With Good Intentions, But the Opposite is Also True

The Road to Perdition is Paved With Good Intentions, But the Opposite is Also True

In this sicha the Rebbe addresses how even the darkest points in our lives– as individuals and as a whole– have the greatest potential for good. Although the Rebbe touches on free will, it isn’t explained, I believe, because it isn’t as relevant to the discussion at hand. I. The Ba’al Shem Tov (1) teaches us that the 42 journeys of the Jewish people in the desert on the way to Eretz Yisroel have parallel in the life of every Jew. Leaving…

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The Younglings (You’re Not A Hipocryte)

The Younglings (You’re Not A Hipocryte)

Doing good for an ulterior motive isn’t always such a bad thing… Moshe Rabbeinu reminds the Jewish people about the time they believed the scouts’ report about Eretz Yisroel. He tells them that their children, who didn’t take part in that episode would merit to enter the Land. “[Furthermore,] your young children, [about whom] you said, ‘They will be prey,’ and your children who on that day did not know good and evil, they will go there and I will give…

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But How is He Going to Make a Living?

But How is He Going to Make a Living?

Pinchas: A Sicha Part 2 Read Part 1 here. But How is He Going to Make a living? It’s a fair question. Your shvigger asked it about you and your wife will ask it about your future son-in-law. The simple answer is: G-d wants us to have a relationship with materialism and yet remain above it all. Now we can understand why the issue with Pe’or happened before entering the land of Israel, after the first generation of Jews in the desert died….

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A Geshmake Tayve

A Geshmake Tayve

Pinchas: A Sicha Part One :וְהָיְתָה לּוֹ וּלְזַרְעוֹ אַחֲרָיו בְּרִית כְּהֻנַּת עוֹלָם תַּחַת אֲשֶׁר קִנֵּא לֵאלֹקיו וַיְכַפֵּר עַל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל “It shall be for him and for his descendants after him [as] an eternal covenant of kehunah, because he was zealous for his G-d and atoned for the children of Israel.” (Pinchas 25:13) The situation with Pinchas happened after the Jewish people began sinning with the Moabite women and doing serving idols (avoda zara) of Ba’al Pe’or with them. Rashi tells us that…

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Why Daven?

Why Daven?

Likkutei Torah: Parshas Chukas Vaya’as Moshe Part Three: Why Daven? וְזֶהוּ עִנְיָן הַתְּפִלָּה שֶׁבְּגוּף הָאָדָם בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶה,   What is the point of davening? As  a soul in a body? In this world? שֶׁהַנְשָׁמָה בְּתוֹךְ הַגוּף סוֹבֶלֶת צָרוֹת וִיסוּרִים, שֶׁרְצוֹנָה לִידָבֵק בְּיוֹצְרָהּ וְהַגוּף אֵינוֹ מַנִיחָה, In this world, the soul in the body goes through hardship and pain, when all she wants is to attach herself to her Maker and the body won’t let. וּכְמוֹ גָלוּת הַשְׁכִינָה שֶׁמוּכְרֶחֶת לַהַחֲיוֹת גַּם הַרְשָעִים, The soul is forced…

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We Daven to Transform Evil

We Daven to Transform Evil

Likkutei Torah: Parshas Chukas VaYa’as Moshe: Part 2 We Daven to Transform Evil. What Is Evil? ,וְהִנֵה מְבוּאָר בְּזֹהַר The Zohar  tells us, מַאן דְלֹא מְהַפֵּךְ מְרִירוּ לְמִתְקָא, לֵית לֵיהּ חוּלְקָא בְּהַאי עַלְמַא כְּלוּם (עַיֵין בְּזֹהַר בְּרֵאשִׁית דַף ד’ עָמוּד א׳ וּבְּפִּירוּשׁ הַרַמַ”ז שָׁם “One who hasn’t transformed bitterness into sweetness has no portion in this world [the world to come].” כְּי זֶה כָּל הָאָדָם לֹא נִבְרא אֶלָא בִּשְׁבִיל זֶה, שֶׁהַרֵי בְּבַּית רִאשׁוֹן לֹא הָיוּ מִתְפַּלְלִין כְּלַל גַּם בְּבַּית שֵׁנִי…

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Rethinking Evil

Rethinking Evil

Likkutei Torah: Parshas Chukas VaYa’as Moshe Part 1 Concept Background to the Ma’amer: I. The verse: See for yourself in the preceding verse: Rashi writes that one had to gaze intently at the copper snake for the healing to work. Rashi: Moshe Rabbeinu wasn’t told to make it out of copper, but since Hashem called it a “nochosh” (“snake,” in Hebrew) he made it out of “nechoshes” (“copper”). (Bereishis Rabbah 19:31:8) II. Love and Fear. These are the two extremes…

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Y’hi Hashem Elokeinu Imonu: Part Two; The Possuk, Its Meaning, Hashem’s Relationship “With” Us

Y’hi Hashem Elokeinu Imonu: Part Two; The Possuk, Its Meaning, Hashem’s Relationship “With” Us

Part Two:  Conceptual Background to Part Two: I. Elokeinu means, “our G-d.” In Chassidus, “Elokeinu” also is the type of relationship G-d has with us. He chooses to relate to the world as a king, i.e., Melech Ha’Olam (King of the universe), He chooses to relate to us as a father as well. As a general principle, in Chassidus, “Elokeinu” means “our strength and our vitality.” In Hebrew it’s “kocheinu v’chayuseinu,” which connotes our physical life itself, our energy, enthusiasm, life dedication, etc., as explained at…

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Y’hi Hashem Elokeinu Imonu: Parts Five and Six; This Car Has Good Handling

Y’hi Hashem Elokeinu Imonu: Parts Five and Six; This Car Has Good Handling

Part Five: This Car Has Good Handling ה) וְזֶהוּ ״יְהִי הַוֲיֶ’ אֱלֹקֵינוּ עִמָּנוּ כַּאֲשֶׁר הָיָה עִם אֲבוֹתֵינוּ,״  This then is the meaning of, “May G-d, our G-d be with us just as He was with our forefathers.” דְּבֲּעַבוֹדַת הָאָבוֹת מּוּדְגָשִׁים שְׁנֵי עִנְיָנִים הַנִזְכָּרִים לְעֵיל The Forefathers’ service to G-d underscored the two types of humility we mentioned earlier (self-sacrifice as result of a decision vs. self-sacrifice as a result of being humbled by G-dliness). שֶׁקִיְימוּ כָּל הַתּוֹרָה עַד שֶׁלֹא נִיתְּנָה, דְבָּזֶה מוּדְגָשׁ שֶׁעַבוֹדָתָם הָיְתָה (לֹא מִפְּנֵי…

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Y’hi Hashem Elokeinu Imonu: Part Four; Understanding the Language, Shedding Light on a Deeper Reality

Y’hi Hashem Elokeinu Imonu: Part Four; Understanding the Language, Shedding Light on a Deeper Reality

Part Four: Understanding the Language, Shedding Light on a Deeper Reality Translation and Integrated Translation of the Ma’amer ד) דְּהִנֵה לָשׁוֹן ״עִם״ שַׁיָיךְ כְּשְׁיֵשׁ דִמְיוֹן בֵּין שְׁנֵי הַדְבָרִים. כְּדְרָשַׁת רַבֹּתֵנוּ זִכְרוֹנָם לִבְרָכָה, עֲל הַפָּסוּק וְהִתְיַצְּבוּ שָׁם עִמָּךְ, עִמָּךְ בְּדוֹמִין לָךְ The use of the word “with” is relevant only when there is a relationship between the different elements at play. For example, on the verse where G-d tells Moshe Rabeinu (BeHa’alos’cho, 11:16), “…And have them [the seventy elders] stand there…

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Y’hi Hashem Elokeinu Imonu: Part Three; Personal Relationship With the Divine

Y’hi Hashem Elokeinu Imonu: Part Three; Personal Relationship With the Divine

Part Three: Personal Relationship With the Divine. Humility and Self-Sacrifice “ג) דְהִינֵה הַטַעֲם עֲל זֶה שׁהַיִרְאָה בָּאָה בּעִיקָר עֲל-יְדֵי עֲבוֹדַת הָאָדָם, יֵשׁ לוֹמַר, כִּי יִרְאָה הִיא בִּיטוּל. וּבְּפְרַט יִרְאַת הַמֶלֶךְ, ״שֹוֹם תָּשִֹים עָלֶיךָ מֶלֶךְ״ שֶׁתְּהֵא אֵימָתוֹ עָלֶיךָ The reason why fear is specifically a result of our personal effort is, that fear is humility: especially the fear associated with a king.  A possible reason why fear is humility can be understood by the following. Fear is, as defined in Chassidus, the…

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Y’hi Hashem Elokeinu Imonu; Parshas Korach, Gimmel Tammuz, 5724 Part One

Y’hi Hashem Elokeinu Imonu; Parshas Korach, Gimmel Tammuz, 5724 Part One

Y’hi Hashem Elokeinu Imonu; Parshas Korach, Gimmel Tammuz, 5724 (1964) Historical Background to the Ma’amer: This ma’amer is based on the Frierdiker Rebbe’s sicha of 5687 (1927). The Frierdiker Rebbe delivered this sicha after being incarcerated for nineteen days at the Spalerno fortress, before being sent to exile in Kostroma. At the station, before boarding the train car, the Frierdiker Rebbe turned to the chassidim who had come to bid him farewell and delivered the sicha. (Days In Chabad, Kaminetzky & Cohen,…

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It was you all along

It was you all along

Is reading a self-help book self-help? Or is it the author’s help? If we are inspired by someone to do something, are we still self-motivated? Perhaps we’re just being influenced? In his ma’amer, Ani L’Dodi, the Rebbe answers this question and sheds light on the mystery of man serving G-d. This is part five and the final installment of this series featuring the Rebbe’s ma’amer, Ani L’Dodi, 5726 (1966). Part One, Elul — Being Proactive Part Two, He Doesn’t Wake You, He Waits For You…

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