Literary Corner

Book Excerpts

Excerpts and entire Books by Ohr Somayach Staff and Affiliates
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Literary Corner
Top | Excerpts | Whole Books | Descriptions of Other Books Featured Book
127 Insights into Megillat Esther
After The Return
Anatomy of a Search
Book of our Heritage
Buy Green Bananas
Echoes of Glory
Herald of Destiny
The Informed Soul
Living Inspired
Living up to the Truth
Longing for Dawn
The Magic Elixer
The Malbim Haggadah
The Ohr Somayach Haggadah
The Other Side of the Story
Our Faith and Strength
Prisms
Rigshei Lev
Rite and Reason
Sand and Stars
Seasons of Life
Second Thoughts
Reb Simcha Speaks
The Thinking Jewish
   Teenager's Guide to Life
Triumph of Survival
Turnabout
Vintage Wein
With an Eye on Eternity
World Mask

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Book Samples and Excerpts


After the Return Cover After the Return
by Rabbi Mordechai Becher and Rabbi Moshe Newman
(Published by Feldheim)

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An old friend's wedding, an uncle's funeral, Passover at the family homestead -- these are but a few of the challenging real-life events that are fraught with conflict and anxiety for ba'alei teshuvah. After returning to the faith of their ancestors, many re-enter the secular world without the tools to respond to the inevitable challenges to their newly adopted set of beliefs.

This excerpt is from the chapter "The Yeshiva's Role".


Seasons of LifeSeasons of Life
by Natan Slifkin
(Published by Targum Press • Distributed by Feldheim Publishers)

Seasons of Life explores how the Jewish year, including the festivals and the months, are reflected in the natural cycle of the seasons and the lives of plants and animals. Lavishly illustrated with photographs and diagrams, this book contains profound insights into the Jewish festivals and the natural world. You can read extracts from it and other books in the Torah Universe series in Ohr Somayach's new Nature Series.


Rigshei LevRigshei Lev
by Rabbi Menachem Nissel
(Published by Targum Press • Distributed by Feldheim Publishers)

Since the dawn of the Jewish People there has been a profound relationship between women and prayer. Here, a gifted educator has explored women's role in prayer, from its halachic and philosophic perspectives. Topics include: a woman's obligation of prayer, what to say if one's time is limited, bringing young children to Shul, the nature of prayer and women's vital role concerning it.

Read Rebbitzen Heller's review


Oshagad.gif (29411 bytes) The Ohr Somayach Haggadah
based on the lectures of Rabbi Uziel Milevsky
(Published by Targum Press • Distributed by Feldheim Publishers)
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"You shall tell it to your son" is the Torah’s formula for linking one Jewish generation to another.

Haggadah means telling the story of the Exodus from Egyptian bondage which we celebrate on Passover.

The Haggadah is the ultimate curriculum for a crash course in Jewish history. But it takes a master teacher to direct the use of this curriculum.

Rabbi Uziel Milevsky, of blessed memory, was indeed a master teacher of our generation.   Whether it was as a Rosh Mesivta in Toronto, Chief Rabbi of Mexico or a lecturer in Ohr Somayach in Jerusalem and Toronto, Rabbi Milevsky was unparalleled in his ability to relate the Torah he taught to the lives of his congregants and students.

This Ohr Somayach Haggadah represents the classes on the Haggadah which Rabbi Milevsky gave at Ohr Somayach in Jerusalem during the years he taught here. His insights have influenced a generation of Jews who did not have the opportunity of studying the Haggadah in their youth. We are confident that they will also enrich the understanding of those who return each year to the Seder table hoping to find another dimension of freedom from all the bondages of their existence which they can tell to their children and grandchildren. 

The Ohr Somayach Haggadah is available wherever Jewish books are sold..


Othrside.jpg (9331 bytes) The Other Side of the Story
by Rebbetzin Yehudis Samet
(Published by ArtScroll / Mesorah Publications)
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He's inconsiderate. - She's discourteous. - They're negligent. - You are absolutely, positively, no-doubt-about-it certain that your friend/spouse/boss/neighbor/fellow-Jew has done something he shouldn't have .... And you're wrong.

For more than two decades, Rebbetzin Yehudis Samet has been teaching her fellow Jews to love each other.  To speak well of each other.  And do judge each other favorably.

As part of her renowned workshop on shmiras halashon, Rebbetzin Samet has collected hundreds of true stories of behavior that seems, at first glance, to be unforgivable, negative, or just plain nasty -- and that turns out to have been perfectly justified.

The Other Side of the Story gives us 180 funny, poignant, and unusual tales that teach us to unravel the mysteries of human behavior and help us to understand others, and ourselves.  These are stories taht will tickle your funny-bone or tug at the strings of your heart.  Either way, they will surely change the way you look at people -- and provide 180 reasons for doing it.

Her co-worker had taken the earrings that she lost in the office -- or had she?   His brother hadn't bothered to invite him to the family reunion -- or so it seemed.   The plumber was a thief, the teacher was incompetent, the babysitter irresponsible.   The judgment was clear.  Until we heard The Other Side of the Story.

In addition to this collection of tales gathered from all over the world, The Other Side of the Story offers successful strategies on integrating the principles of judging favorably into our own lives, and a look at the profound wisdodm that underlies this important concept.  As we learn to give others the benefit of the doubt, to stretch our imagination and jusdge our fellows favorably, we wil rise beyond anger to compassion, leave pettiness behind, and enjoy true personal growth.


Prisms Cover Prisms
by Rabbi Michael Schoen
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For a mitzvah is a candle and Torah is light... (Mishlei 6:23)

The Torah is compared to light. Just as light, monochrome at first glance, bursts into multi-hued magnificence when focused through a prism, so, too, is the Torah. At first glance only one interpretation can be seen, but as one delves into it, many more explanations appear. For this reason I have chosen "Prisms" as the title of this book. I only pray that the interpretions I have suggested should be one of the "seventy facets of the Torah."

The excerpt is from the chapter on Rosh Hashanah - The Concept of Teshuva.


The Book of Our Heritage Cover The Book of Our Heritage
by Rabbi Eliyahu KiTov,
translated by Rabbi Nachmun Bulman (Published by Feldheim)
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The Book of Our Heritage illuminates the many phases of the Jewish calender year - its holidays, fast days, days of rejoicing and sorry; the meanings of their laws and observance as well as the relevant Midrashic comments and insights by earlier and later Sages.

Written by one of Israel's most acclaimed religious authors whose books on the Jewish way of life and on the Chassidic movement have become renowned best sellers, The Book of our Heritage is a basic book for every Jewish teacher and student; rabbi and layman; and for every Jewish home.

The excerpt is from the chapter on Shavuot: Laws, Customs, and Insights.


Living Inspired CoverLiving Inspired
by Rabbi Dr. Akiva Tatz
(Published by Targum Press • Distributed by Feldheim Publishers)
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In this remarkable book, Rabbi Akiva Tatz shows how an understanding of some of the deeper ideas and patterns of Torah thought can illuminate our everyday esperiences. In these pages, life in general and its ordeals in particular are brought into focus - relationships, the unexpected, even live's problems and doubts become springboards to inspiration.

Rabbi Tatz's presentation of some of the deepest ideas in Jewish thought and his unique ability to show how these ideas affect everyday life and its challenges have touched and enriched audiences and individuals worldwide. This book reveals new dimensions of understanding, shafts of light on the path of life.

The except is from the chapter "Why a Good Time Never Lasts"


Reb Simcha Speaks Cover Reb Simcha Speaks
by Rabbi Dr. Akiva Tatz and Yaakov Branfman
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Reb Simcha Speaks is a collection of Rabbi Simcha Wasserman's insights and teachings on vital principles of life and faith. The excerpt is from the chapter "About Child Raising and Education"


The Malbim Haggadah Cover The Malbim Haggada
by Rabbi Meir Levush Malbim,
translated by Jonathan Taub and Yisroel Shaw
(Published by Targum Press • Distributed by Feldheim Publishers)
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A little known edition of this famous commentary, printed in 5654 (1894) and only recently rediscovered, includes a remarkable essay which reveals the secret of the structure of the Haggadah, a puzzle which has challenged generations of scholars. This essay, entitled Maamar Yesod Mosad, A Statement of the Fundamental Principle [of the Haggadah], has been translated and adapted as the Overview.

Also available in Spanish! - Tambin disponible en espaol! [HTML] [Text] [Word] [Acrobat]


127 Insights Cover 127 Insights into Megillat Esther
by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach (published by Targum Press)
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There were 127 provinces in King Achashveirosh's vast empire; when Chazal expounded on the Purim miracle, they uncovered 127 insights into the vastness of the Megillah

We've known the characters since childhood: the foolish king, Achashveirosh, and his two queens, one wicked and one righteous; the evil coucillor, Haman, with his deadly schemes; the righteous Jew, Mordechai, with his refusal to compromise his beliefs. Each Purim, as we listen to the entrhalling words of Megillas Esther, we shudder in dread at the Jews' peril and thrill at their miraculous redemption.

But do we really understand the meaning of the Purim story, in all of its depth and many dimensions?

Through the words of Chazal found in Masechta Megillah, Rabi Mendel Weinbach, Dean of Ohr Somayach Institutions, presents the Purim story as few of us have ever understood it. It is a story of conflict and political intrigue, imminent doom and miraculous redemption, sin and repentance.

127 Insights into Megillas Esther reveals the many facets of the Purim story in the light of the greater confrontation between a Heavenly power and an arrogant, earthly one. Through the words of Chazal we gain a deeper appreciation of the courage and wisdom of Esther's strategy in dealing with the danger, of Mordechai's righteousness, of Haman's hatred.

The excerpt contains 4 of the 127 insights from the book.

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Whole Books on Line


Living Up to the Truth Cover Living Up to the Truth
by Rabbi Dr. Dovid Gottlieb
In English - [HTML] [Word] [Acrobat]
en franais - [Word - French]

A rational justification for living traditional Judaism. Rejecting a "leap of faith", the author shows that there is sufficient evidence to warrant basing one's life on the truth of the Torah.
Third Revised Edition - January 1997!


With An Eye on Eternity
Incorporating The Ramchal's Classical "Essay on Fundamentals"
By Rabbi Yehudah Lebovits & Rabbi Mordechai Rosen
(Published by Feldheim)
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What Is Man's Purpose in the World?
Who Placed Him Here?
What Is He Expected of Man, and What May he Expect to Find in His Life?
What Awaits Man After Death?
What is Eternity

The design and purpose of the universe was outlined in concise form by Rabbi Moshe Chayim Luzzatto - the RAMCHAL - in his brief "Essay on Fundamentals." In it he described the Jewish conceptual scheme of our world as it emerges from the Torah, given to the Jewish People through Divine revelation. This blueprint for the world and for humankind's existence could only have been sketched by the Creator Himself. And only by utilizing this blueprint can man discover his rightful place in the world.

This volume addresses the most basic questions that every thinking man struggles with in his efforts to grasp the meaning of life. The authors have expanded upon the RAMCHAL's work to demonstrate its applicability to contemporary times and the infinite potential of human beings for spiritual growth.


Our Faith and Strength By Rabbi Naftali Hoffner
(Published by Mosad Eliezer Hoffner
Distributed by Feldheim Publishers)
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Out of love for us, the Almighty has directed us to follow His commandments and steer clear of the prohibitions - in accordance with our covenant at Mount Sinai - in order to attain real happiness. However, because of human limitations, this means many challenges have to be met - in our private life as well as part of Klal Yisroel.

At at time when considerable parts of our people stand confused when faced with threats to their existence as Jews - this manual OUR FAITH AND STRENGTH can help us:

  1. to assess the purpose and the challenges of our life;
  2. to serve as a guide for the Torah Jew - living and working in the modern world;
  3. to acquaint us with the very clear answers of our Sages to problems facing us as individuals and as part of Klal Yisroel.

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Descriptions of Other Books Written
by Ohr Somayach Rabbis, Students, and Alumni


Rite and ReasonRite and Reason
1050 Jewish Customs and Their Sources

by Rabbi Shmuel Pinchas Gelbard,
translated by Rabbi Nachmun Bulman (Published by Feldheim)

Why do we make handmade matzos round? Why do we eat dairy foods on Shavuos? Why do we cover our eyes when we recite Shema? Rabbi Shmuel Gelbard's carefully researched work provides the origins and sources for over 1000 Jewish practices. From Sabbaths and Festivals to daily routine, from days of joy to times of sorrow, Rite and Reason encompasses Jewish Life, explaining clearly and succinctly why we do what we do.

This two-volume anthology, the first of its kind to appear in over 100 years, contains up-to-date, relevant, and timely explanations for the age-old customs that have been handed down from generation to generation. Translated from the Hebrew Otzar Ta'amei ha-Minhagim, this comprehensive work, with its detailed annotation and bibliography, makes an essential addition to the library of every home and synagogue.


Longing for Dawn cover Longing for Dawn
by Rabbi Yaakov Yisroel Baifus,
translated by Rabbi Nachmun Bulman (Published by Feldheim)

Tragedy strikes...and the sufferer is plunged into the abyss of darkness and despair. Feelings of loneliness, anguish, and dejection weigh heavily. What can be done to lighten the burden? How can the suffering be lessened? When will the long night end? And how can happiness and joy return?

Longing for Dawn, a compilation of timeless wisdom and insight from our Sages -- both contemporary, and Torah giants from previous eras -- brings light and hope.

This meaningful book by Rabbi Yaakov Yisroel Baifus, shlita, a bestseller in its original Hebrew, is now brought to the English-speaking world by Rabbi Nachman Bulman, shlita. Now, both the sufferer and those who want to offer consolation have access to this classic work.


The Informed Soul Cover The Informed Soul
by Rabbi Dr. Dovid Gottlieb
(Published by ArtScroll / Mesorah Publications)

The author of this work is an original, and so is his book. Rabbi Dovid Gottlieb taught philosophy in one of the world's great universities. Meanwhile, he was becoming a Talmudic scholar and "thinking his way" to traditional Judaism as rigorously as he approached his intellectually demanding field in academia. In 1980, he traded his university career for a life of teaching and study in the Torah world of Israel

Since then, the author has been a popular and respected speaker and teacher on four continents, exploring the knottiest issues of modern life through the lens of a Jewish philosophy of life. His audiences include a wide range of people, ages, and cultures. Their attitudes toward Judaism include curiosity, skepticism, disbelief, developing commitment, and bitter hostility. The one factor they share is a desire to increase their knowledge and understanding of traditional Judaism. The discussions are intense, the questions probing and often unsympathetic. The results are the stuff of which this remarkable book is made.

Between these covers are the most stimulating of those lectures and the ensuing give and take between Rabbi Gottlieb and his listeners. The topics range from the abstract to the perplexing to the infuriating. With uncommon sense the author dissects each theme and opens new vistas of understanding - and, amazingly, he does it as well on the printed page as in the classroom or lecture hall. He has the gift of clarity and the great teacher's ability to draw his readers into his train of thought.

This is a book for intelligent, thoughtful people. Anyone who fits that description will find it a rare treasure.


Anatomy of a Search Cover Anatomy of a Search
(Published by ArtScroll / Mesorah Publications)
by Rabbi Dr. Akiva Tatz

Now, a book that tells the inside story of the Teshuva Revolution. Dr. Akiva (Kevin) Tatz is a physician who made his way from medical practice in Johannesburg, South Africa, to yeshiva in Jerusalem.

In these pages he takes us through his experiences at medical school, as a young doctor faced with the drama of the medical wards and the operating room, through his work in the violence of South Africa's bush war and later, on to Ohr Somayach Yeshiva and its kollel. As you share his life and those of the young people from different backgrounds whom he meets and later tutors in the yeshiva, you will gain a rare, first-hand insight into the Teshuva Revolution and the personalities and ideas which are making it the most exciting element on the Jewish scene today.


World Mask Cover World Mask
by Rabbi Dr. Akiva Tatz

The world is a mask which hides a deeper reality. But it is a unique mask: it hides, and yet it reveals; it is opaque and yet transparent.

This Book, by the author of Anatomy of a Search and Living Inspired, reveals some of the Torah wisdom which reflects that duality, both within the world and beyond it, in physical expression and in root depth. One who learns to perceive the depth behind the scenes of life will experience exhilaration and wonder.

The careful reader who explores the chapters presented here will discover some of the keys which unlock the world behind the mask.


The Thinking Jewish Teenager's Guide to Life
by Rabbi Dr. Akiva Tatz

This book powerfully explains some of the deepest concepts in Judaism, demonstrating how those ideas and principles can, and should, guide decisions, relationships and growth to real maturity. There's no "talking down" here; there's just straight inspiration, depth, and many answers.


Echoes of Glory
The Story of the Jews in the Classic Era - 350 BCE-750 CE
by Rabbi Berel Wein
(Published by Shaar Press / Mesorah Publications)

Perpeptively, wittily, wisely, and accurately, he presents an ancient story as if it were happening before our eyes. He relates old dilemmas to today's problems and shows how Jewish history is an endless and inspiring continuum. In his third masterwork, Rabbi Wein takes us from the Second Temple Era to the times of the Geonim. It includes: the compilation of the Mishnah and Talmud, and how they saved Jewish life for all time; such great Geonim as R'Saadia, R'Sherira, and R'Hai, and how they led the monumental Torah centers of Babylonia and North Africa; the rise of Christianity and Islam and the Jewish response; Jewish life taking root in the barbarous lands of Europe. The times were exotic, exciting , dangerous, triumphant. This book does them justice.


Herald of Destiny
The Story of the Jews in the Medieval Era - 750- 1650
by Rabbi Berel Wein
(Published by Shaar Press / Mesorah Publications)

This volume introduces us to the mysterious and little understood era of the middle ages. Includes; The end of the Geonim, The Jews come to Spain, The beginning of the Golden Age of Spain, Poetry and Piyut, The Sephardim, The Ashkenazim, Rashi and Tosafists, Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, The end of the Golden Age, Kabbalah, The expulsion from Spain, The Black Death, The Crusades, The Jews move East, Shulchan Aruch, A great concluding essay entitled "Israel in Exile".


Triumph of Survival
The Story of the Jews in the Modern Era - 1650-1990
by Rabbi Berel Wein
(Published by Shaar Press / Mesorah Publications)

This volume explores the influence of Jewish history on contemporary Jewish life. Includes; The Cossack pogroms of 1648-49, Shabat Tzvi and Moses Mendelssohn, The rise of Reform and the battle of tradition, The Chassidic Movement and its masters, The Vilna Gaon and the Misnagdim, Zionism and Social Revolution, America and the "new Judaism, The Holocaust, The State of Israel, The rebirth of Torah.


Sand and Stars
The Jewish Journey Through Time
by Yaffa Ganz and Rabbi Berel Wein
(Published by Shaar Press / Mesorah Publications)

Complete in two volumes, Sand and Stars traces the story from the Second Temple Era to Bar Kochba, the period of the Michnah and Talmud, the Geonim, Jewish migration to Europe, the Crusades, the Golden Age of Spanish Jewry, the Dark Ages and the Renaissance. From the Cossack pogroms of 1648-9 to the Holocaust, America, the birth of the State of Israel, and the rebirth of Torah life after the ravages of World War II

There is no more exciting story anywhere than the Jewish People's march through the menaces of history. It's a gripping, absorbing story, peopled by great names and arch-villains, full of courage and cowardice, and leavened with the conviction that the Chosen People must survive - come what may. Complete in two volumes, SAND AND STARS traces the story over 19 centuries, from the Second Temple Era to our own times. These books are the work of two great names in today's Jewish literary world: YAFFA GANZ - the acclaimed, award-winning author of children's literature; in collaboration with RABBI BEREL WEIN - rosh yeshivah, rabbi, historian, and lecturer, whose history cassettes are the primary basis of the book.


Second Thoughts
by Rabbi Berel Wein
(Published by Shaar Press / Mesorah Publications)

Rabbi Berel Wein shares his thoughts - and the result is one of the year's best reads: "These articles and essays forced me to come to grips with myself and my beliefs. In all truth, this writing experience has touched me, my soul and being, in a way that I never foresaw.'"

When Rabbi Berel Wein makes a statement like that, you know you are in for a remarkably enjoyable reading experience. As a speaker, historian, and teacher - Rabbi Wein never disappoints.

This book is a sheer joy. Provacative, humorous, thoughtful, stimulating, informative - it is filled with all the mervelous qualities one associates with one of our generation's favorite Rabbis.


Buy Green Bananas
by Rabbi Berel Wein
(Published by Shaar Press / Mesorah Publications)

When Rabbi Berel Wein aims his pen at the foibles and challenges of everyday life, get ready to raise your eyebrows, position your lips to smile, and open your mind to think. Rabbi Wein distills the best of his many careers - rabbi, lawyer, rosh yeshivah, historian, teacher, lecturer, observer - into the scores of keen and cogent observations that make up this precious little book. The rest of us go through life and see a lot but perceive very little. Rabbi Wein observes a bunch of green bananas or two armfuls of loaded shopping bags and discerns a blueprint for more enjoyable, more productive living. This book will amuse, enlighten, provoke, inspire ... Don't be left out; let bunches of green bananas ripen in your mind. We could go on and on, but you get the idea. The book's a treat. Just read it!


Vintage Wein
by Dr James David Weiss
(Published by Shaar Press / Mesorah Publications)

Here are well over 100 of Rabbi Berel Wein's best stories that will tickle your funny bone, prod your mind, and make you strive to be a better Jew. We invite you to sip some Vintage Wein. Its an intoxicating pleasure.


The Magic Elixir Cover The Magic Elixir
Volume I - "Who Wants to Live"
Volume II - "Give Us Life"
by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach (published by Targum Press)

About one hundred years ago, there lived a man, a tzaddik, a leader of Jews the world over. The man shared with us a secret, a magic elixer that would lead to the kind of live everyone desires - and every Jew should live.

His name was the Chofetz Chaim.

In Who Wants to Live? and Give Us Life, we too can partake of the Chofetz Chaim's magic elixer. Here, collected for us to enjoy and learn from, are the meshalim, the parables of the Chofetz Chaim, written for our day and age.

Do you want to live? Come, partake of The Magic Elixer, and learn the secret that the Chofetz Chaim was so happy to share with all of us.


Turnabout Cover Turnabout
The Malbim on Megillas Esther
translated and adapted by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach (published by Targum Press)

A little over a century ago, Rav Meir Yehuda Leibish Malbim publish a series of works on Tanach. These sefarim were so wide-ranging and illuminating that they soon gained acclaim as Torah classics and have since become an integral part of any Torah library.

In the first of his sefarim on Tanach, a commentary on Megillas Esther, the Malbim posed searching questions on the words and phrases of the Megillah. He then used these insightful questions to create a fascinating interpretation of the story. It was this sefer that earned the Malbim a reputation as a "master of p'shat."

Turnabout skillfully weaves the Malbim's commentary into an absorbinb, readable tale. Here the famous and familiar figures of the Purim story come to life, their every word and action charged with meaning.

To heighten the reader's appreciation of the miracle of Purim, Turnabout also includes:

  • the complete Megillah and the Malbim's questions and commentary in the original Hebrew;
  • a new English translation of the Megillah and the Malbim's questions;
  • a chronology of the Purim story;
  • an historical overview of the period;
  • a biographical sketch of the Malbim.

Turnabout offers the reader a thought-provoking look at an ancient story, one that will enhance his understand of the joyous day of Purim.

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