This chapter has some interesting grammar that to my knowledge has been completely ignored to this time, namely the number of second-person pronouns, you and your. Some are plural, which in my opinion address the individuals among the people, and others are singular, which again according to my opinion, address the people as a whole. The former pronouns assign responsibility to each person, while the latter are applicable to the community as a body. In this latter case, when the commandment is positive, individuals may not be required to follow the commandment, only the community as a whole. Whether that means a majority or some specific super-majority percentage, I don’t know. Only the Lord knows that. To aid you in your own understanding of these verses, I have marked each second-person pronoun with [s] for singular and [p] for plural.
As in Chapter 18, the scribe inverts the meaning of second-person pronouns for part of this chapter as well.
וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר 19:1
Levi. 19:1 And the Lord spoke to Moses saying,
דַּבֵּר אֶל־כָּל־עֲדַת בְּנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵהֶם קְדֹשִׁים תִּהְיוּ כִּי קָדֹושׁ אֲנִי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם 19:2
Levi. 19:2 “Speak to the whole congregation of the children of Israel and you[s] shall say to them, ‘Holy shall you[p] be,’ for I, the Lord, your[p] God, am holy.”
Because the Lord directs Moses to the entire congregation, the commandments in this chapter are for all the people, not just the priests and Levites. Here the Lord tells Moses to say that every person shall be holy because his/her God is holy,
אִישׁ אִמֹּו וְאָבִיו תִּירָאוּ וְאֶת־שַׁבְּתֹתַי תִּשְׁמֹרוּ אֲנִי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם 19:3
Levi. 19:3 “Each of you[p] shall revere his mother and his father, and you[p] shall keep My Sabbaths.”
”I am the Lord, your[p] God.”
אַל־תִּפְנוּ אֶל־הָאֱלִילִים וֵאלֹהֵי מַסֵּכָה לֹא תַעֲשׂוּ לָכֶם אֲנִי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם 19:4
Levi. 19:4 “You[p] shall not turn to idols, and you[p] shall not make molten gods for yourselves[p].”
” I am the Lord, your[p] God.”
וְכִי תִזְבְּחוּ זֶבַח שְׁלָמִים לַיהוָה לִרְצֹנְכֶם תִּזְבָּחֻהוּ 19:5
Levi. 19:5 “And when you[p] will offer a sacrifice of peace offering to the Lord, you[p] shall offer it for your[p] satisfaction.”
I suppose that the meaning of this verse, as I’ve translated it, is that a peace offering is to be made only if you have the intention of consuming it in two days, as specified below.
בְּיֹום זִבְחֲכֶם יֵאָכֵל וּמִמָּחֳרָת וְהַנֹּותָר עַד־יֹום הַשְּׁלִישִׁי בָּאֵשׁ יִשָּׂרֵף 19:6
Levi. 19:6 “It shall be eaten in the day of your[p] offering, and the next day, but what will be remaining until the third day shall be burned in fire.”
From the latter part of v. 19:2 until this verse, all the second-person pronouns have been plural. To me, this means that each individual is being addressed. Starting in v. 19:9 we begin to see singular second-person pronouns as well.
וְאִם הֵאָכֹל יֵאָכֵל בַּיֹּום הַשְּׁלִישִׁי פִּגּוּל הוּא לֹא יֵרָצֶה 19:7
Levi. 19:7 “And if it should be eaten at all on the third day, it is abominable. It shall not be accepted.”
וְאֹכְלָיו עֲוֹנֹו יִשָּׂא כִּי־אֶת־קֹדֶשׁ יְהוָה חִלֵּל וְנִכְרְתָה הַנֶּפֶשׁ הַהִוא מֵעַמֶּיהָ 19:8
Levi. 19:8 “And the eater of it shall bear his iniquity, for he has profaned a holy thing of the Lord, and that soul shall be cut off from its people.”
Verses 19:6, 19:7, and 19:8 essentially repeat what was written in Levi. 7:16, 7:17, and 7:18.
וּבְקֻצְרְכֶם אֶת־קְצִיר אַרְצְכֶם לֹא תְכַלֶּה פְּאַת שָׂדְךָ לִקְצֹר וְלֶקֶט קְצִירְךָ לֹא תְלַקֵּט 19:9
Levi. 19:9 “And in your[p] reaping the harvest of your[p] land, you[s] shall not finish reaping the corner of your[s] field, and you[s] shall not gather the gleaning of your[s] harvest.”
As I see it, the numbers of the second-person pronouns in this verse and the next (as well as others in this chapter) convey hidden information. In this verse, the pronouns in the first two phrases, in your reaping and of your land are plural, and the ones in the three phrases you shall ... finish reaping and of your field and you shall ... gather, are singular. If I’m right in my interpretation of these pronouns, the first two in “in your reaping ... of your land” the Lord is calling to individuals who farm their land. Each one who has land and is reaping is called to listen to this command. But then the Lord shifts to the responsibility of the entire community of farmers. It is called upon to obey this commandment. In other words, the last part implies that no landowner is free of this responsibility.
[Return to Levi. 23:22]
וְכַרְמְךָ לֹא תְעֹולֵל וּפֶרֶט כַּרְמְךָ לֹא תְלַקֵּט לֶעָנִי וְלַגֵּר תַּעֲזֹב אֹתָם אֲנִי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם 19:10
Levi. 19:10 “And you[s] shall not glean your[s] vineyard, and you[s] shall not gather the fallen fruit of your[s] vineyard. You[s] shall leave them for the poor and the stranger.”
“I am the Lord, your[p] God.”
In this verse, the Lord continues calling to the community as a whole, as all the second-person pronouns (except the final one in “I am the Lord, your God”) are singular. And the last plural second-person pronoun means that God is the Lord of each of us.
לֹא תִּגְנֹבוּ וְלֹא־תְכַחֲשׁוּ וְלֹא־תְשַׁקְּרוּ אִישׁ בַּעֲמִיתֹו 19:11
Levi. 19:11 “You[p] shall not steal, and you[p] shall not deceive, and you[p] shall not deal falsely, each with his neighbor.”
וְלֹא־תִשָּׁבְעוּ בִשְׁמִי לַשָּׁקֶר וְחִלַּלְתָּ אֶת־שֵׁם אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֲנִי יְהוָה 19:12
Levi. 19:12 “And you[p] shall not swear deceptively by My name that you[s] profane the name of your[s] God.”
“I am the Lord.”
In this verse we are told that when anyone swears falsely by the Lord’s name, the entire community profanes our God. We are not to stand idly by.
לֹא־תַעֲשֹׁק אֶת־רֵעֲךָ וְלֹא תִגְזֹל לֹא־תָלִין פְּעֻלַּת שָׂכִיר אִתְּךָ עַד־בֹּקֶר 19:13
Levi. 19:13 You[s] shall not oppress your[s] fellow and you[s] shall not rob. You[s] shall not withhold the wages of a hired servant with you[s] till morning.
Until this verse, the nine preceding verses, vss. 19:4 to 19:12, address either a single “You shall not ...” or two or more that seem to be associated in thought. In this verse we encounter what seem to be two disconnected thoughts. Do not rob and do not withhold wages. To my way of thinking, though, to withhold wages is being associated with robbing someone.
Also, here is where the scribe inverts the meaning of second-person pronouns, although he is not completely consistent, as you shall see as you continue through this chapter.
לֹא־תְקַלֵּל חֵרֵשׁ וְלִפְנֵי עִוֵּר לֹא תִתֵּן מִכְשֹׁל וְיָרֵאתָ מֵּאֱלֹהֶיךָ אֲנִי יְהוָה 19:14
Levi. 19:14 You[s] shall not despise one deaf, and you[s] shall not put a stumbling block before one blind, and you[s] shall be reverent because of your[s] God.”
“I am the Lord.
Verses 19:13 and 14 are for the community, As these are negative commands, they are to be followed by everyone.
לֹא־תַעֲשׂוּ עָוֶל בַּמִּשְׁפָּט לֹא־תִשָּׂא פְנֵי־דָל וְלֹא תֶהְדַּר פְּנֵי גָדֹול בְּצֶדֶק תִּשְׁפֹּט עֲמִיתֶךָ 19:15
Levi. 19:15 “You[p] shall not do unjustly in judgment: You[s] shall not pardon someone weak and you[s] shall not favor someone strong. With righteousness you[s] shall judge your[s] fellow.”
The commentators seem to take this verse to apply only to legal matters. The word for judgment, the fourth word in the verse, implies that. Also, the first “you” is plural, implying we are all the target. However, the next to last word in the verse, meaning you shall judge, can imply more, such as discriminate, vindicate, or condemn. Therefore, I have to assume that this verse applies to all of us in general. The key words, as far as I am concerned, are with righteousness. We as a community are being told to not deal unjustly. And the last part of the verse offers a positive command also for the community. [Return to rubincmds.org]
לֹא־תֵלֵךְ רָכִיל בְּעַמֶּיךָ לֹא תַעֲמֹד עַל־דַּם רֵעֶךָ אֲנִי יְהוָה 19:16
Levi. 19:16 “You[s] shall not go talebearing among your[s] people. You[s] shall not stand idly by the blood of your[s] neighbor.”
“I am the Lord.”
As in v. 19:13, we again encounter two apparently disassociated thoughts in this verse. And once more, I imagine a reasonable connection: It might be that those who go about talebearing would be more likely to hide their eyes if a neighbor were hurt.
לֹא־תִשְׂנָא אֶת־אָחִיךָ בִּלְבָבֶךָ הֹוכֵחַ תֹּוכִיחַ אֶת־עֲמִיתֶךָ וְלֹא־תִשָּׂא עָלָיו חֵטְא 19:17
Levi. 19:17 “You[s] shall not hate your[s] brother in your[s] heart. You[s] shall surely rebuke your[s] fellow and not bear sin because of him.”
In this verse, perhaps we are being told that if you do not inform your brother of his wrongdoing, you might as well hate him. Is God telling us here why He rebukes us? As we are told in Proverbs, a wise individual looks on misfortune or difficulty as an opportunity to learn. We’re told here that if we do not lovingly warn our brother of his sinful behavior, we also bear the sin. That’s not good. We need to be comfortable with ourselves. So we may not look aside, thinking that doing so doesn’t affect us.
לֹא־תִקֹּם וְלֹא־תִטֹּר אֶת־בְּנֵי עַמֶּךָ וְאָהַבְתָּ לְרֵעֲךָ כָּמֹוךָ אֲנִי יְהוָה 19:18
Levi. 19:18 “You[s] shall not take vengeance or hold a grudge with the children of your[s] people, but you[s] shall love your[s] neighbor as yourself[s].”
“I am the Lord.”
This is the first time the Lord tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves. We will encounter this again a number of times. It would seem to be important to the Lord – and should be for us -- as difficult as it may appear. Notice that all the second-person pronouns in this verse are singular. According to my theory, this applies to the people as one entity. This brings up an interesting question: If we, as a people, are to love our neighbor, is this a reference to the neighbor next door (our individual neighbors) or to the neighbor beyond our borders (an abutting nation)? If it refers to our individual neighbors, then, as the second part of the verse is positive, not all of us have to provide that love.
אֶת־חֻקֹּתַי תִּשְׁמֹרוּ בְּהֶמְתְּךָ לֹא־תַרְבִּיעַ כִּלְאַיִם שָׂדְךָ לֹא־תִזְרַע כִּלְאָיִם וּבֶגֶד כִּלְאַיִם שַׁעַטְנֵז לֹא 19:19
Levi. 19:19 “You[p] shall keep My statutes. You[s] shall not breed your[s] cattle of mingled seed. You[s] shall not sow your[s] field of mingled seed. And you[s] shall not put a garment on you[s] of two kinds of fabric.”
Why does the Lord repeat the statement, “You shall keep My statutes” here? And are the three proceeding Commandments meant to be literal or figurative, specific or general? What does it mean to not mingle two different kinds of things? It can’t mean to not mix anything. After all, we can mingle two kinds of food. So they must be specific. Might they then be literal or figurative? Being literal would mean they they refer to the acts mentioned. Being figurative could mean that they refer to investigation of new techniques or experimentation, or to producing new species of things. I don’t know the answers to the questions raised here. The sages and rabbis take these Commandments to be literal. However, if they are meant to be literal, we have been violating at least the first two of them for a long time, and the third for at least 50 years. And what of the first question I raised? Why are we cautioned to keep the Lord’s statutes here? That’s another question to which I have no answer. Any suggestions?
[Return to Deut. 22:9]
וְאִישׁ כִּי־יִשְׁכַּב אֶת־אִשָּׁה שִׁכְבַת־זֶרַע וְהִוא שִׁפְחָה נֶחֱרֶפֶת לְאִישׁ וְהָפְדֵּה לֹא נִפְדָּתָה אֹו חֻפְשָׁה 19:20
לֹא נִתַּן־לָהּ בִּקֹּרֶת תִּהְיֶה לֹא יוּמְתוּ כִּי־לֹא חֻפָּשָׁה
Levi. 19:20 “And when a man will lie down with a woman discharging seed, and she is a bondwoman designated to a man, and she has never been redeemed or her freedom has not been given to her, there shall be an examination. They shall not be killed, as she was not free.”
Here we find the two words discharging seed. So we have here an exception to the meaning of the word seed. In this case, the meaning is clear and it does not mean descendants. It means the contents of semen. Somehow the ancients must have guessed or concluded that the discharge of semen into a woman’s vagina was necessary for the conception of a child. Thus they must have surmised that there was a seed in the semen that produced the child. Is this verse really an exception? Yes! No where else is the word for seed meant to convey that which originates a child. In almost all other cases, it means descendants. So what are we to make of this in light of Levi. 18:21? We are left with uncertainty. [Return to Levi. 18:21]
וְהֵבִיא אֶת־אֲשָׁמֹו לַיהוָה אֶל־פֶּתַח אֹהֶל מֹועֵד אֵיל אָשָׁם 19:21
Levi. 19:21 “And he shall bring his guilt offering to the Lord to the entrance of the tent of meeting, a ram of guilt.”
Here it is implied that the examination mentioned in the preceding verse is to be conducted by the priest.
וְכִפֶּר עָלָיו הַכֹּהֵן בְּאֵיל הָאָשָׁם לִפְנֵי יְהוָה עַל־חַטָּאתֹו אֲשֶׁר חָטָא וְנִסְלַח לֹו מֵחַטָּאתֹו אֲשֶׁר 19:22
Levi. 19:22 “And the priest shall make atonement for him with the ram of guilt before the Lord because of his sin that he had committed, and pardon will be his relating to his sin that he had committed.”
וְכִי־תָבֹאוּ אֶל־הָאָרֶץ וּנְטַעְתֶּם כָּל־עֵץ מַאֲכָל וַעֲרַלְתֶּם עָרְלָתֹו אֶת־פִּרְיֹו שָׁלֹשׁ שָׁנִים יִהְיֶה לָכֶם 19:23
עֲרֵלִים לֹא יֵאָכֵל
Levi. 19:23 “And when you[p] shall come in to the land and plant any fruit tree, then you[p] shall consider its fruit forbidden. Three years it shall be forbidden to you[p]; it shall not be eaten.”
The words that are translated as “then you shall consider … forbidden” literally mean “then you shall consider … uncircumcised or “then you shall consider ... foreskin.” The Lord is telling us not to prune the tree for three years after its planting, as well as not to eat its fruit. Isn’t the bible and its Hebrew exciting and miraculous?
וּבַשָּׁנָה הָרְבִיעִת יִהְיֶה כָּל־פִּרְיֹו קֹדֶשׁ הִלּוּלִים לַיהוָה 19:24
Levi. 19:24 “And in the fourth year all its fruit shall be holy, praise to the Lord.”
וּבַשָּׁנָה הַחֲמִישִׁת תֹּאכְלוּ אֶת־פִּרְיֹו לְהֹוסִיף לָכֶם תְּבוּאָתֹו אֲנִי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם 19:25
Levi. 19:25 “But in the fifth year you[p] may eat its fruit, to more richly yield its increase to you[p].”
”I am the Lord, your[p] God.”
לֹא תֹאכְלוּ עַל־הַדָּם לֹא תְנַחֲשׁוּ וְלֹא תְעֹונֵנוּ 19:26
Levi. 19:26 “You[p] shall not eat with the blood. You[p] shall not practice divination and you[p] shall not make magic.”
What’s the connection here? Do divination and magic have an association with the dead or with departed souls (the blood)?
לֹא תַקִּפוּ פְּאַת רֹאשְׁכֶם וְלֹא תַשְׁחִית אֵת פְּאַת זְקָנֶךָ 19:27
Levi. 19:27 “You[p] shall not round off the extremity of your[p] head, and you[s] shall not mar the end of your[s] beard.”
This verse seems to be telling us that each of us men may not trim our hair; nor may men cut the end of their beard. I believe the reason for the change in number from plural to singular is this: More >>
וְשֶׂרֶט לָנֶפֶשׁ לֹא תִתְּנוּ בִּבְשַׂרְכֶם וּכְתֹבֶת קַעֲקַע לֹא תִתְּנוּ בָּכֶם אֲנִי יְהוָה 19:28
Levi. 19:28 “And you[p] shall not make a cut in your[p] flesh for a spirit, and you[p] shall not put an inscription of a mark on you[p].”
“I am the Lord.” [Return to Deut. 14:1]
אַל־תְּחַלֵּל אֶת־בִּתְּךָ לְהַזְנֹותָהּ וְלֹא־תִזְנֶה הָאָרֶץ וּמָלְאָה הָאָרֶץ זִמָּה 19:29
Levi. 19:29 “You[s] shall not defile your daughter by making her a harlot, so the land shall not fall into harlotry that the land would become full of lewdness.” [Return to Deut. 23:18]
אֶת־שַׁבְּתֹתַי תִּשְׁמֹרוּ וּמִקְדָּשִׁי תִּירָאוּ אֲנִי יְהוָה 19:30
Levi. 19:30 “You[p] shall keep My Sabbaths and you[p] shall revere My sanctuary.”
“I am the Lord.”
אַל־תִּפְנוּ אֶל־הָאֹבֹת וְאֶל־הַיִּדְּעֹנִים אַל־תְּבַקְשׁוּ לְטָמְאָה בָהֶם אֲנִי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם 19:31
Levi. 19:31 “You[p] shall not turn to ghosts or to conjurers. You[p] shall not seek to be defiled by them.”
“I am the Lord, your[p] God.”
מִפְּנֵי שֵׂיבָה תָּקוּם וְהָדַרְתָּ פְּנֵי זָקֵן וְיָרֵאתָ מֵּאֱלֹהֶיךָ אֲנִי יְהוָה 19:32
Levi. 19:32 “You[s] shall rise up because of the presence of a gray head and honor the presence of an elder, and you[s] shall be reverent because of your[s] God.”
“I am the Lord.”
וְכִי־יָגוּר אִתְּךָ גֵּר בְּאַרְצְכֶם לֹא תֹונוּ אֹתֹו 19:33
Levi. 19:33 “And when a stranger sojourns with you[s] in your[p] land, you[p] shall not oppress him.”
כְּאֶזְרָח םִכֶּם יִהְיֶה לָכֶם הַגֵּר הַגָּר אִתְּכֶם וְאָהַבְתָּ לֹו כָּמֹוךָ כִּי־גֵרִים הֱיִיתֶם בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם אֲנִי 19:34
Levi. 19:34 “The stranger who sojourns with you[s] shall be to you[p] as the home-born among you[p], and you[s] shall love him as yourself[s], for you[p] were strangers in the land of Egypt.”
“I am the Lord, your[p] God.”
לֹא־תַעֲשׂוּ עָוֶל בַּמִּשְׁפָּט בַּמִּדָּה בַּמִּשְׁקָל וּבַמְּשׂוּרָה 19:35
Levi. 19:35 “You[p] shall not do unjustly in judgment, in size, in weight, or in measure.”
מֹאזְנֵי צֶדֶק אַבְנֵי־צֶדֶק אֵיפַת צֶדֶק וְהִין צֶדֶק יִהְיֶה לָכֶם אֲנִי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם אֲשֶׁר־הֹוצֵאתִי אֶתְכֶם 19:36
Levi. 19:36 “Right balances, correct weights, an accurate ephah, and an accurate hin shall be yours[p]. I am the Lord, your[p] God, Who brought you[p] out of the land of Egypt.”
[Return to Deut. 25:16]
I think there’s an interesting and intriguing observation to be made about some of the verses in this chapter. Remember that the Lord is speaking through the mouth of Moses (see v. 19:2). Here Moses says that the Lord brought “you” (plural) out of Egypt, referring to each individual. But these individuals will not be entering the promised land. They will live out their lives in the wilderness. So they will have no opportunity to employ right balances, correct weights, etc. A similar observation can be made for nine other verses in this chapter, all referring to when the people will be in the promised land. They are vss. 19:9, 10, 19, 23, 24, 25, 29, 33, and 34.
וּשְׁמַרְתֶּם אֶת־כָּל־חֻקֹּתַי וְאֶת־כָּל־מִשְׁפָּטַי וַעֲשִׂיתֶמ אֹתָם אֲנִי יְהוָה 19:37
Levi. 19:37 “So you[p] shall keep all My statutes and all My ordinances and you[p] shall do them.”
“I am the Lord.”
In concluding this chapter, let me emphasize that the number of the second-person pronouns in this chapter are of critical significance. I believe it is vital to recognize their distinction for complete understanding of the implications of the commandments. While this may be difficult because of the scribe’s inconsistency to the point of possibly appearing careless, it’s important to study each verse and its implications.
Torah Commandments in this Chapter
211. You shall not reap the corner of your field. V. 19:9
212. You shall not gather the gleaning of your harvest. V. 19:9
213. You shall leave the corner of your farm for the poor and the stranger. V. 19:10
214. When harvesting the fruit of your vineyard, you shall not glean it or
gather the fallen fruit. V. 19:10
215. You shall leave the gleanings and fallen fruit for the poor and the stranger. V. 19:10
216. You shall not swear falsely by the Lord's name. V. 19:12
217. You shall not oppress your fellow. V. 19:13
218. You shall not withhold wages of a hired servant till morning. V. 19:13
219. You shall not despise the deaf. V 19:14
220. You shall not put stumbling blocks before the blind. V. 19:14
221. You shall judge your fellow with righteousness. V. 19:15
222. You shall not go about talebearing. V. 19:16
223. You shall not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor. V. 19:16
224. You shall not hate your brother in your heart. V. 19:17
225. You shall rebuke your fellow when he sins. V. 19:17
226. You shall not bear sin because of your fellow. V. 19:17
227. You shall not take vengeance with the children of your people. V. 19:18
228. You shall not hold a grudge with the children of your people. V. 19:18
229. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. V. 19:18
230. You shall not crossbreed your cattle. V. 19:19
231. You shall not sow your farm with different kinds of seeds. V. 19:19
232. You shall not wear a garment made of two kinds of fabric. V. 19:19
233. When a man would have sex with a bondwoman who is
designated to another man and she has not been redeemed or
her freedom given to her, there shall be an examination. V. 19:20
234. Neither of them shall be killed. V. 19:20
235. The man shall bring a guilt offering to the tent of meeting. V. 19:21
236. A newly planted tree shall not be pruned nor its fruit eaten for three years. V. 19:23
237. In the fourth years its fruit shall be only for holy purposes. V. 19:24
238 In the fifth year and beyond its fruit may be eaten. V. 19:25
239. You shall not practice divination. V. 19:26
240. You shall not make magic. V. 19:26
241. You shall not enclose the top of your head. V. 19:27
242 Nor shall you round off the extremity of your head. V. 19:27
243. You shall not mar your beard. V. 19:27
244. You shall not mutilate your flesh for someone who died. V. 19:28
245. You shall not have a tattoo on yourself. V. 19:28
246. You shall not allow your daughter to become a harlot. V. 19:29
247. You shall revere the sanctuary of the Lord. V. 19:30
248. You shall not inquire of ghosts or conjurers. V. 19:31
249. You shall honor and revere your elders. V. 19:32
250. You shall rise in the presence of a gray head. V. 19:32
251. The stranger sojourning with you shall be as the home-born to you. V. 19:34
252. You shall not be unjust in judgment, size, weight, or measure. V. 19:35
253. You shall employ accurate balances and weights and an accurate ephah
and hin. V. 19:36
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