A Second Passover Seder Plate with Seven Additions, by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Additional symbolic foods arranged on a second seder plate. . . .

A Guided Meditation for Pesaḥ, by Rabbi Daniel Raphael Silverstein

A meditation which can be used to prepare for Pesaḥ, or for sharing at the Seder, to deepen the experience of liberation for yourself and others. . . .

אַדִירְיַרוֹן בַהִירְיַרוֹן | Adiryaron Ḅahiryaron, a litany of angelic names associated with the 42 letter name, recorded in Sefer haQanah

A litany of angelic names recorded in Sefer HaQanah, whose initial letters spells out the 42 letter divine name as also found in Sefer haPeliah. . . .

אַדִירְיַרוֹץ בַּהִירְיַרוֹץ | Adiryarots Bahiryarots, a litany of angelic names associated with the 42 letter name, recorded in Sefer haPeliah

A litany of angelic names recorded in Sefer haPeliah whose initial letters spells out the 42 letter divine name as also found (in variation) in Sefer HaQanah. . . .

בִּרְכַּת הַמָּזוֹן בִּקְצָרָה | Birkat HaMazon Biqtsarah :: Abbreviated Blessing after the Meal

The formula for the abbreviated Birkat Hamazon, in Hebrew with English translation. . . .

Mikveh Kavvanah for Affirming Jewish identity, by Rabbi Jonah Rank

A kavvanah for affirming one’s Jewish identity in a mikvah before immersion. . . .

תהלים ק״נ | Psalms 150, translated by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, z”l, included his translation of Psalms 150 in his Siddur Tehillat Hashem Yidaber Pi (2009). . . .

That Religion Be Not a Cloak for Hypocrisy, by Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan (1945)

“That Religion Be Not a Cloak for Hypocrisy,” by Rabbi Mordecai Menaḥem Kaplan can be found on p. 435-5 of his The Sabbath Prayer Book (New York: The Jewish Reconstructionist Foundation, 1945). . . .

The Pious Man, a prayer-poem by Mordecai Kaplan adapted from the essay “An Analysis of Piety” by Abraham Joshua Heschel (1942)

“The Pious Man” is a prayer-poem from Mordecai Kaplan’s diary entry, September 19, 1942, on the virtue of piety as expressed in an essay published earlier that year by Abraham Joshua Heschel. Piety was a Roman virtue, but in this essay, A.J. Heschel appears to be describing an idealization of Ḥasidut. . . .

ברכת המזון השלם עם טעמי מקרא | Full Birkat haMazon with Ta’amei haMiqra (cantillation), by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (Nusaḥ Ashkenaz)

The full Birkat haMazon (or Grace after Meals) according to Nusach Ashkenaz with optional additions for egalitarian rites, fully marked with ta’amei miqra (also known as cantillation marks or trope). Ta’amei miqra originally marked grammar and divisions in any Hebrew sentences, and older Hebrew manuscripts such as those from the Cairo Geniza often show ta’amei miqra on all sorts of texts, not just the Biblical texts we associate them with today. This text includes the full tradition for Birkat haMazon, including texts for weekdays, Shabbatot, and festivals, as well as additions for a wedding meal, a circumcision meal, and a meal in a mourner’s house. . . .

מתי לא לבקש סליחה | When not to seek forgiveness, by Josh Rosenberg

A thought about the need to seek forgiveness from those you’ve wronged during this week before Yom Kippur: . . .

ברכות התורה | Blessing for Torah Study, interpretive translation by Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, z”l

This English translation of the blessing for Torah study by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi z”l, was first published in his Siddur Tehillat Hashem Yidaber Pi (2009). Versification according to the Nusaḥ ha-ARI z”l by Aharon Varady. . . .

A Vision, a poem by Rosa Emma Salaman (1850)

The poem, “A Vision” by Rosa Emma Salaman, was written November 1850 and first published in the Occident and American Jewish Advocate 9:1, Nissan 5611/April 1851, p.31-33. . . .

God Our Light, a poem by Rosa Emma Salaman (1845)

The poem, “God Our Light” by Rosa Emma Salaman, was first published in the Occident and American Jewish Advocate 3:8, Marḥeshvan 5606, November 1845, p.379-380. . . .

The Angels’ Vigil, a poem by Rosa Emma Salaman (1848)

The poem, “The Angels’ Vigil” by Rosa Emma Salaman, was written in April 12, 1848 and first published in the Occident and American Jewish Advocate 6:3, Sivan 5608, June 1848, p. 127-128. . . .

A Description of my Dreams, a poem by Rosa Emma Salaman (1848)

The poem, “A Description of my Dreams” by Rosa Emma Salaman, was written in September 1849 and first published in the Occident and American Jewish Advocate Vol. 6:4, Tamuz 5608, July 1848, p.175-177. . . .

Enoch, a poem by Rosa Emma Salaman (1846)

“Enoch” by Rosa Emma Salaman was first published in the Occident 4:9, Kislev 5607/December 1846. . . .

A Blessing for Peace, Health, Joy, Prosperity, and Kindness by Reb Zalman

A blessing by Reb Zalman for Peace, Health, Joy, Prosperity, and Kindness which he wrote in spray paint on a municipal water tank behind his house in Colorado. . . .

ודוי | Vidui meditation, by Danny Cohen

Vidui means acknowledgment. It is not about self-flagellation or blame, but about honesty, coming into contact with our lives, our patterns and experiences, and ultimately about teshuva and learning. In contacting the pain and suffering which our modes of being have given rise to, our regret can help us to willfully divest ourselves of them and awaken the yearning for those modes of being which are life-affirming, supportive of wholeness, connection, integrity, and flourishing. With each one we tap on our heart, touching the pain and closed-heartedness we have caused, and simultaneously knocking on the door that it may open again. . . .

ימים נוראים | My Ten Days of Repentance Writing Exercise, by David Wolkin

David Wolkin writes, “I’ve been pushing this writing exercise for a while now, but I taught a class with it in my home on Sunday and it proved to be powerful and connecting for all of us in the room. If you’re reflecting/repenting this season, you might benefit from this.” . . .

תחנה אײדער אפרויא גײט אין טבילת מצוה | Tkhine for when a Woman Goes to Immerse in the Mikve (1910)

“Tkhine for when a Woman Goes to Immerse in the Mikve” by an unknown author is a faithful transcription of the tkhine published in Rokhl m’vakoh al boneho (Raḥel Weeps for her Children), Vilna, 1910. I have transcribed it without any changes from The Merit of Our Mothers בזכות אמהות A Bilingual Anthology of Jewish Women’s Prayers, compiled by Rabbi Tracy Guren Klirs, Cincinnati: Hebrew Union College Press, 1992. shgiyot mi yavin, ministarot nakeni. If you can translate Yiddish, please help to translate it and share your translation with an Open Content license through this project. . . .

אײן אנשפראכע געגען עין הרע | An Incantation against the Ayin hoReh (1896)

This tkhine offers a formula for providing relief to a very ill person, and as such, should only be used as a supplement to recommendations provided by an expert physician or nurse. The source of the tkhine is Tkhine of a Highly Respected Woman, Budapest, 1896; and transcribed from The Merit of Our Mothers בזכות אמהות A Bilingual Anthology of Jewish Women’s Prayers, compiled by Tracy Guren Klirs, Cincinnati: Hebrew Union College Press, 1992. . . .

ברכות והודאות | Brakhot v’Hoda’ot (Blessings and Thanksgivings): A Birkon for the Bar Mitsvah of Yeshayahu Yisraeli

Brakhot v’Hoda’ot (Blessings and Thanksgivings): A Birkon by R’ Hillel Ḥayyim Yisraeli-Lavery. Kiddush, Havdalah and the Birkat Hamazon according to the custom of R’ Saadia Gaon, RaMBaM, and the Vilna Gaon. Zemirot, Piyyutim, and Shirim. Ma’ariv for Weekdays and for after Shabbat. A souvenir for the Bar Mitzvah of Yeshayahu Yisraeli, 19 Sivan 5776 (Shabbat Parshat Shelakh Lekha). Published in the Holy City of Yerushalayim. . . .

ספר יצירה | Sefer Yetsirah, a derivation of A. Peter Hayman’s experimental “earliest recoverable text,” by Aharon Varady for practitioners

The text of the Sefer Yetsirah presented here follows the “experimental exercise” produced by A. Peter Hayman in his Sefer Yeṣira: Edition Translation and Text-Critical Commentary, “Appendix III: The Earliest Recoverable Text of Sefer Yesira” (Mohr Siebeck, 2004). For details on his construction and his review of the available recensions of Sefer Yetsirah, please refer to Hayman’s complete commentary. Numbers in parentheses indicate sections. I have added spaces between sections indicate traditional chapter breaks. Square brackets indicate some doubt as to whether the included wording was present in the earlier form of the text (p.124). . . .

ברכת המזון | Ḥaveri Nevarekh: Blessing the Spirit of All-which-Lives after Eating and Feeling Satiated, a Birkon by Aharon Varady (v.1.01)

Unlike most plant and bacterial life, we human beings cannot process our own food from the sun, soil, water, and air. And so, as with the other kingdoms of life on Earth, we are dependent on vegetation to live, either directly by consuming plants, or indirectly by predating on other creatures that consume vegetation. Being nourished and seeking nourishment is so basic to us, that our practical desperation for survival undergirds most of our ethics relating to non-human life. But Judaism demands that our human propensity towards predation be circumscribed. Indeed, it is my understanding that the ultimate goal of Torah is to circumscribe and temper our our predatory appetites, and to limit and discipline our predatory behavior. In this way, our predatory instinct may be redeemed as a force for goodness in the world, and we might become a living example to others in how to live in peace and with kindness towards the other lifeforms we share this planet with. In 2010, while working with Nili Simhai and the other Jewish environmental educators at the Teva Learning Center, I began working on a Birkon containing a translation of the birkat hamazon that emphasized the deep ecological wisdom contained within the Rabbinic Jewish tradition. I continued working on it over the next several years adding two additional sections of source texts to illuminate the concept of ḥesronan (lit. absence or lacking) and the mitzvah of lo tashḥit (bal tashḥit). I invite you to include these works into your birkon along with other work that I’ve helped to share through the Open Siddur — especially Perek Shirah and other prayers that express delight in the created world and our role in it, l’ovdah u’lshomrah — to cultivate and preserve this living and magnificent Earth. . . .

עמידה | An Amidah for associating blessings with memory by Rabbi Dr. Oren Steinitz

As powerful a practice as a standing meditation may be, reciting the familiar words of the Amidah with intention can prove to be a major challenge. The words may become rote, and the davvener may wonder if the ancient formulas are even meaningful to them. In this adaptation of the Amidah, Oren Steinitz treats each B’rakhah as a prompt to remind ourselves what we are praying for and shares his own thoughts as an example. Rabbi Steinitz originally wrote the “Memory Amidah” in 2013, during the Davennen Leadership Training Institute cohort 7, and revised it for sharing here through the Open Siddur Project in 2016. . . .

לְמַלְמֵל וּלְהַמהֵם | The non-cognitive experience of ambient mumbling in communal Jewish prayer by R’ Elie Kaunfer

The mode of silently reading prayers puts the worshiper in the realm of the cognitive—just as we might experience reading a book on the subway. But the act of mumbling moves from a purely cognitive experience to a more viscerally emotional act. The aesthetic effect of this mumbling serves a dual purpose: Besides its own value as a way of engaging in prayer, it provides a contrast to the truly silent parts of the prayer: the Amidah. . . .

On Belief Held in the Act of Prayer by Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, translated by Gabbai Seth Fishman

The one who prays to Hashem Yitbarakh should hold the belief that, from the start, there was a cause brought about by the everlasting One, and that S/He is the source of all completions, and S/He created all the worlds at the time when it arose in Hir will. . . .

ברכות | Bringing blessing to all life on Earth, a d’var tefilah on making blessings over foods by Rabbi David Seidenberg (neohasid.org)

The Talmud (Brakhot 35a-b) teaches that eating food without saying a brakhah (a blessing) beforehand is like stealing. A lot of people know that teaching, and it’s pretty deep. But here’s an even deeper part: the Talmud doesn’t call it “stealing”, but מעילה ׁ(“me’ilah“), which means taking from sacred property that belongs to the Temple. So that means that everything in the world is sacred and this Creation is like a HOLY TEMPLE. . . .

האותיות של האבג״ד בעברית | A Periodic Table of the Hebrew Aleph Bet Emphasizing Phonetic Grouping, Symbolic Association, and Diversity of Letter Form

Basic Hebrew letter and vowel lists adorn the opening pages of a number of siddurim published a century ago — evidence of the centrality of the Jewish prayer book as a common curricular resource. But the Hebrew letters are not only essential to fluency in Hebrew language, they are also the atomic elements composing the world of the rabbinic Jewish imagination. This is especially so for those who conceive in their devotional literary practices an implicit theurgical capability in modifying and adapting the world of language though interpretation, translation, and innovative composition. To create a world with speech relies on thought and this creative ability is only limited by the facility of the creator to derive meaning from a language’s underlying structure. This, therefore, is a table of the Hebrew letters arranged in order of their numerical value, in rows 1-9, 10-90, and 100-9000, so that elements with similar numerical structure, (but dissimilar phonetic amd symbolic attributes) appear in vertical columns. Attention has been given to the literal meaning of the letter names and the earliest glyph forms known for each letter in the Hebrew abgad. . . .

בִּרְכָּת הָבָּיִת | Birkat Habayit: Blessing for the Home

The Birkat Habayit is perhaps the most popular blessing in the Jewish world, appearing as a hanging amulet inside the entrance of many houses of Jews of all streams. I have added niqud to the blessing and I am very grateful to Gabriel Wasserman for his corrections to my vocalization. . . .

Bendigamos al Altísimo, a Spanish hymn for the meal, performed by Rabbi Shuviel Ma’aravi and Joshua Polak

Bendigamos is a hymn sung after meals according to the custom of Spanish and Portuguese Jews. It has also been traditionally sung by the Jews of Turkish descent. It is similar in meaning to the Birkat Hamazon that is said by all Jews. Bendigamos is said in addition to Birkat Hamazon, either immediately before or immediately after it. The text is in modern Spanish, not Ladino. The prayer was translated by David de Sola Pool. Below is the actual text as well as the translation by de Sola Pool. The melody is one of the best known and loved Spanish and Portuguese melodies, used also for the Song of the Sea (in the Shabbat morning service) and sometimes in “Hallel” (on the first day of the Hebrew month and on festivals). . . .

Masking the Liturgy: a pedagogy for learning the Siddur, by Rabbi Dr. Joshua Gutoff (2003)

I wanted my students to start thinking of prayers as expressions of an interior world, rather than as descriptions of the exterior one. I suggested to them that they think of a prayer as a kind of mask, much like the ones worn in religious rituals by many peoples. The job of the mask-wearer is to discover the reality on the “inside” of the mask and bring it to life. . . .

תהלים קכו׳ | Psalms 126, a poetic translation by Shim’on Menachem

This Psalm is straightforwardly post-exilic (for which see Sefer haWiki) but switches in its narrative perspective between before and after the return from Babylon, between gratitude and longing for return, helped by the profoundly non-linear mechanics of verbal tense and aspect in biblical Hebrew. The Psalmist chooses words associated with joy (s’ḥoq, rinah) that are tinged with other, more complicated emotions. Here’s what came out. . . .

נוסח ארץ ישראל | Nusaḥ Ereṣ Yisrael :: Tefillat Minḥah, Birkat HaMazon, and Tefillat HaDerekh, by Uri DeYoung

This is a compact siddur for weekday Minḥa according to Nusaḥ Ereṣ Yisrael, as derived from rulings of the Jerusalem Talmud, fragments found in the Cairo Geniza and other historical documents. This siddur also includes Birkat HaMazon (Grace After Meals) and Tefillat HaDerekh (Travelers’ Prayer). Modern additions to the ancient prayers include special verses for Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Liberation Day) and Yom HaAṣmaut (Israeli Independence Day), additions which keep the nusaḥ at once uniquely ancient, yet thoroughly connected to our modern reality here in the Land Of Israel. . . .

שִׁמּוּשׁ תְּהִלִּים‬ | Shimush Tehillim (the Theurgical Use of Psalms), attributed to Hai ben Sherira Gaon

The Shimmush Tehillim is a medieval work providing prescriptive theurgical associations for Psalms and verses from Psalms. It has been historically attributed to Rav Hai Gaon (939-1038 CE) but any definitive statement of authorship is lacking. The suggestion that portions of the Shimush Tehillim were authored during the late Geonic period in Iraq isn’t implausible. We also know that Hai Gaon was knowledgeable of Hekhalot writings that should at least be considered part of the same thought world as the Shimmush Tehillim. Writings found in the Shimush Tehillim have been found in manuscripts dating from the 12th century. This digital transcription of Shimush Tehillim derives from Elias Klein Békéscsaba’s 1936 compilation. This edition should not be considered a critical text, as earlier editions certainly exist. Not all of the Psalms are identified as having a particular theurgical use. . . .

A Prayer before Torah Study by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

My Lord Creator of all, Master of all worlds, Supreme, compassionate and forgiving, Thank You for Your Torah, Thank You for allowing me to learn from it And to move toward serving You. Thank You for revealing some of the Mysteries of Your Way. . . .

ברכת המזון | Thanks for the Food, an interpretive translation of the Birkat Hamazon by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

The style by which Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, z”l translated Jewish liturgy in English was neither literal nor idiomatic, but highly interpretive and interspersed with his own ḥiddushim (innovations). Showing Reb Zalman’s translation side-by-side with the Jewish liturgy helps to illuminate his understanding of the liturgy — it’s deeper meaning as well as how it might be communicated to a contemporary audience. In the version I have prepared below, I have set the interpretive translation of Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, z”l side-by-side with the liturgical Hebrew that may have inspired it. In several places, Reb Zalman’s formulation departs from the traditional Ashkenazi nusaḥ. Where there is no Hebrew, we can more easily observe where Reb Zalman has expanded upon the blessing. Still, my work was not exhaustive and I appreciate any corrections to the nusaḥ (liturgical custom) of the Hebrew that may have inspired Reb Zalman’s interpretation in English. . . .

תפילה קודם למוד הקבלה | Prayer Before Studying Kabbalah, by Yitsḥak Luria (translated by Aharon Varady)

Master of the worlds and Lord of Lords, Father of Compassion and Forgiveness, we give thanks before you [haShem] Elohainu, Elohai of our ancestors, by bowing and kneeling for having brought us near to your Torah and to your sacred work, and for granting us a portion in the hidden insights of your holy Torah. . . .

הרחמן | Haraḥaman, Prayer to the merciful One for the Shmita Year, R”H seder additions, and other liturgical tweaks by Rabbi David Seidenberg (neohasid.org)

This Haraḥaman (prayer to the merciful or compassionate One) for the Shmitah or sabbatical year can be added to Birkat Hamazon (blessing after meals) during the whole Shmitah year, in order to remember and open our hearts to the sanctity of the land. Say it right before the Harachaman for Shabbat, since Shmitah is the grand shabbat, and right after the paragraph beginning with Bamarom (a/k/a, Mimarom). . . .

הרחמן הוא ישבור עול כיבוש | Prayer to the Compassionate One for the Peace of Two States for Two Peoples (for Inclusion in the Birkat Hamazon) by Ira Tick

A prayer for the peaceful resolution of Israel’s conflicts with her neighbors and a mutually agreeable end to her dominion over the Palestinians, in Hebrew and in English, appropriate for inserting in the Birkat HaMazon especially on Shabbat and Festivals, or for reciting at any time. . . .

Kavanot when Washing One’s Body Before Shabbes by Eyal Raviv

This is pre-Shabbos reflection that can be done in a shower or bath. Shabbat is a time when I am less focused on my selfish desires and instead my thoughts drift to my place in the larger community and world. I find myself doing some version of this before Shabbos most weeks and am welcome for the time to reflect on truly what it is to cease from lay work and consider the work that needs to be done to make the world a better place. . . .

סדר לפסח: חרוסת | Ḥaroset, the Seder’s Innermost Secret: Earth & Eros in the Celebration of Pesaḥ, by Rabbi Arthur Waskow

There it sits on the Seder plate: ḥaroset, a delicious paste of chopped nuts, chopped fruits, spices, and wine. So the question would seem obvious: “Why is there ḥaroset on the Seder plate?” That’s the most secret Question at the Seder – so secret nobody even asks it. And it’s got the most secret answer: none. . . .

ברכת המזון | By the Sweat of their Brow, a Humanist Birkon by Dr. Tzemaḥ Yoreh

Many of our best times are spent eating. Jewish liturgy, however, is very stingy on blessings before eating (focusing much of its energy on blessings after eating). The blessings before food are generic, and except for very specific foods and drinks (such as wine, bread, and matzah), all foods lump into three or four categories (fruit, vegetables, grains, and everything else). As a foodie, I’d like to celebrate each and every distinct taste through the prism of Jewish experience, and thus have tried to compose as many short poems as possible in their honor. . . .

תפילת הזכרת הורים כשאין מניין לאמירת קדיש | “Gebet Statt Kaddisch” Memorial Prayer For When There is No Minyan (trans. Jonah Rank)

Please Lord, Sovereign of Compassion, God, Arbiter of the spirits of all flesh, Parent of Orphans and Judge of widows: God, from the source of Your holiness! May my prayer and the Torah of life that I have learned come before you on account of the soul . . .

אלף באלול | The Council of All Beings on the New Year’s Day festival for Animals, Rosh Hashanah LaBehemot (ראש השנה לבהימות)

Domesticated animals (beheimot) are halakhically distinguished from ḥayot, wild animals in having been bred to rely upon human beings for their welfare. As the livelihood and continued existence of wild animals increasingly depends on the energy, food, and land use decisions of human beings, the responsibility for their care is coming into the purview of our religious responsibilities as Jews under the mitzvah of tsa’ar baalei ḥayyim — mindfullness of the suffering of all living creatures in our decisions and behavior. Rosh Hashanah LeBeheimot is the festival where we are reminded of this important mitzvah at the onset of the month in which we imagine ourselves to be the flock of a god upon whose welfare we rely. The Council of All Beings is an activity that can help us understand and reflect upon the needs of the flock of creatures that already rely upon us for their welfare. . . .

Ritual for Judging Bad Dreams for Good

If one has a dream which makes him sad he should go and have it interpreted in the presence of three. He should have it interpreted! Has not Rav Ḥisda said: A dream which is not interpreted is like a letter which is not read? — Say rather then, he should have a good turn given to it in the presence of three. . . .

תחינה לתחילת יומן חדש | Prayer on Beginning a New Journal, by Aharon N. Varady

May my thoughts seek truth and integrity, the humility that is commensurate with my ignorance, the compassion that arises from the depths of awareness, as depths speak to depths… . . .

Knowing But Not Revealing: A Purim Tax Deduction Loophole, by Lieba B. Ruth

Because we cannot live on two planes, we are granted the opportunity to disguise our external features. We develop the capacity to know each others hearts and find even greater satisfaction in the exchange. Yet, too often, we act as if someone else — who looks remarkably like oneself — is going to provide the support for nonprofit organizations we deem are necessary for a decent life. We assume / hope / pray that someone “else” is doing our part. It’s their turn to make a critical contribution, even a small one, that gives relief, replaces a worn-out part, opens the door wide enough to make a difference. . . .

Source texts on Jewish Prayer and Spirituality

Loadingדומיה – Silence לְךָ דֻמִיָּה תְהִלָּה אֱלֹהִים בְּצִיּוֹן וּלְךָ יְשֻׁלַּם נֶדֶר: תהלים פרק ס”ה (ב’)‏ To You silence is praise, God in Zion, (Psalm 65.2-3) אֵין עוֹמְדִים לְהִתְפַּלֵּל, אֶלָּא מִתּוֹךְ כֹּבֶד רֹאשׁ.‏ חֲסִידִים הָרִאשׁוֹנִים הָיוּ שׁוֹהִים שָׁעָה אַחַת – וּמִתְפַּלְלִים, כְּדֵי שֶׁיְּכַוְּנוּ אֶת לִבָּם לַמָּקוֹם.‏ אֲפִלּוּ הַמֶּלֶךְ שׁוֹאֵל בִּשְׁלוֹמוֹ – לֹא יְשִׁיבֶנּוּ;‏ וַאֲפִלּוּ נָחָשׁ כָּרוּךְ . . .


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