David Kolinsky
David Kolinsky

B’midbar – Camps of Establishing Mental Presence

The opening parashah of the book of B’midbar in some ways is fairly simple thematically. Chapter one introduces the names of the heads of each tribe as well as giving a census for each tribe. Chapter two positions the Levites directly around the tent of meeting, with the remaining tribes in four groups of three positioned outside of the Levites. Chapter three elaborates on the separation of the Levites from the rest of the children of Israel and begins to explain the roles of each of the Levite families that is further elaborated upon in chapter four. These instructions are given on the first day of the second month of the second year after their having left Egypt. Ten days later, as described in chapter ten, the Israelites begin their travels – the cloud ascends from above the Mishkan in midbar Sinai and descends again in midbar Paran. From Paran, the spies are sent into Canaan, but their failure in chapter thirteen condemns the Israelites to wandering for forty years. In chapter twenty six, another census is taken by Moshe and El’azar, opposite their final destination in the plains of Moabh upon the Yardaen of Y’raecho. Besides them, Y’hoshua and Kalaebh – all of the Israelites who had left Mitsraim had died.

In Parshat B’har, we find the following statement: אֲנִי יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם אֲשֶׁר-הוֹצֵאתִי אֶתְכֶם מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם לָתֵת לָכֶם אֶת-אֶרֶץ כְּנַעַן לִהְיוֹת לָכֶם לֵאלֹהִים On the peshat this means: “I am HaShem, your God, that brought you out from the land of Egypt, in order to give to you the land of Canaan, in order to be for you regarded as God.” Allegorically, it means: “In my imposing myself in experience,1 I am God’s bringing forth of existence (HaShem), God’s Guidance being presented to you in experience (Elohim),2 that I brought you out from the disposing of oneself to the acts of feverishly focusing upon the many things narrowing in of experience (land of Mitsraim)3,4 in order to give to you the disposing of oneself to what is subduing that draws in of experience (land of Canaan)5 in order to be for you, regarded as God’s Guidance being presented in experience (Elohim).” If the allegorical point of the Torah could be made in one sentence, this is that sentence. There are innumerable distractions to be found in our lives. However, a midst those distractions God confronts us and guides us. Allegorically, the first half of the book of Exodus is designed to turn us away from the chaos of distractions (Pharaoh6, Mistraim4), and toward God’s guidance (Elohim2). In the second half, the mishkan (dwelling on experience)7 and the vestments (revealing of basic facts)8 of the Kohaen (being mindfully attentive)9 provide us with the intellectual tools enabling us to process the information encountered in an experience. The book of Leviticus is designed to focus our attention at what God brings forward to us in experience, so that we can mindfully approach what can be found a midst God’s guidance. However, none of these mental maneuvers are helpful if we don’t actually engage with experience. Entering the land of Canaan is our first steps at engaging those experiences – a first attempt, that we inevitably fail. There are two behaviors required to successfully enter that promised land (that way of disposing oneself to experience) – to dwell upon the extensiveness of God’s bringing forth of existence, a behavior of endurance and persistence (Y’hoshua bin Nun)10 and to doggedly close in upon something in experience, seizing it and not letting go; a behavior of being directed to face something (Kalaebh ben Y’phunah).11

But perhaps I have jumped far ahead. Before we can take that Pesach, that leap12 to God’s bringing forth of existence (Y-H-W-H), there remains a few more skills for us to acquire. The separation of the Levites from the Israelites is the embodiment of those skills. Allegorically, the word Levite means “acts of clinging upon a scene with mental persistence, generating an awareness of many startling things.”13 The Levites represent the middle ground between our Moshe (the mental faculty drawing out particular things from a midst the many stirring things encountered in experience)14 in association with our Aharon (the mental faculty bringing things to light)15 as compared and contrasted with the broader skill represented by the children of Israel (the behaviors of making a sustained survey of the many things advancing forward in experience).16 As an analogy, think of all that can be perceived around us as represented by a pie. Pharaoh and Mitsraim represent our attempting to haphazardly and chaotically see everything within that pie.6,4 Israel represents our surveying the slice of the pie that is in front of us that is advancing toward us. The Levites (acts of clinging upon a scene with mental persistence, generating an awareness of many startling things) represents the binocular view that remains focused upon that slice and acquires from it an awareness of particularly startling things. Aharon-El’azar represent our approaching and bringing to light particular things15,17 and Moshe represents the grasp of our hands that takes hold of particular things.14

Each of the behaviors of Israel, represented by different tribal names, represent our surveying the same slice of pie with a different skill. For example, Y’hudah means “the becoming startled in acknowledging God’s bringing forth of existence.”18 Allegorically, its way of seeing (head)19 is “the act of repetitively feeling about (Nahshon),20 a behavior of the freely flowing forth of the being mindful of the many things crowding in (AmiNadav).”21 On the other hand, M’nasheh means “the act of slipping through (and becoming familiar with) what is taken notice of of God’s Guidance.”22 Allegorically, its way of seeing (head) is “an act of summarizing what advances forward (Gamli-el)23, a behavior of setting aside the thing upon which one narrows in (P’dah-tsur).”24 Binyamin means “a behavior of being mindfully ever present.”25 Allegorically, its way of seeing (head) is “my taking notice of something is as a result of abiding in contemplation of God’s guidance (Avidan),26 a behavior of repeatedly drawing back from things (Gid’oni).”27 Lastly, Ashaer means “taking stock of the things when exuberantly trickling through experience.”28 Allegorically, its way of seeing (head) is “my haphazardly meeting up with what advances forward in experience (Pagi-el),29 a behavior of repetitively moving about turbulently (Akhran).”30

While each tribe represents our utilizing a particular skill or inclination to take notice of things, the Levites (acts of clinging upon a scene with mental persistence, generating an awareness of many startling things) represent a continuous, laser focused investigation of a scene that results in our bringing to light what is evident for the purpose of engaging with those things. As stated in the text, the job of the Levites is to be mustered upon the mishkan of the /aeDuT (עדות testimony) – the act of dwelling upon the things in evidence.31 They minister to it and they encamp all around with respect to the Mishkan. The word for minister is ShaRaT (שרת) which is directly related to the verb SaRaH (שרה to fix upon – visually and physically) and ShuR (שור) meaning to get a visual fix on something and to see. Allegorically, the word to encamp (חנה HhaNaH) means to establish a mindful presence and to mindfully attend to a particular scene.32 While the children of Israel are also described as establishing a (mental) presence over each of their camps, they are also described as each upon its banner (דגל DeGeL). In Akkadian, the associated verb means “to show reverence, to put attention on, and to look repeatedly.”33 So while the behaviors of making a sustained survey of the many things advancing forward (Israel) put attention on and look repeatedly toward things to be surveyed, the Levites cling to the entire pie slice and focus on all that is evident there. One of the stated responsibilities of the Levites is to shield the children of Israel from QeTsePh (קצף). This word literally means “to scrape against” but in the various Semitic languages it can mean “to be angry with, cut short, bear down upon, beset, vex, irritate and harass.” So while the Levites do the heavy lifting – clinging upon a scene so as to become aware of most things that are evident – the behaviors of making a sustained survey of the many things advancing forward (Israel) are free to take notice of things as they present themselves based upon their particular inclination and skill.

When encamping, the tribes are arranged sequentially in five groupings. This represents how best to be mentally present with a scene that is based upon their relative sequence and the following factors: cardinal direction, predominant tribal name, tribal associations and tribal leader names. For example, the first thing that one must do is to move forward into experience (קדמה eastward) and to scatter about the experience (מזרחה toward the shining (of the sun)). The word for east (קדם QeDeM) evolved from the verb QaDaM (קדם) meaning “to advance forward.” The other word for east, (מזרח miZRaHh), evolved from the verb ZaRaHh (זרח to scatter > shine). Next, one must move toward the things that are ever present in the experience (תימנה southward). This word for south also refers to the country of Taeman (Yemen) which is on the right or ever present side (ימין YaMiN)34 when facing east. Having proceeded forward, scattered about, and toward the things that are ever present; it is now time to become familiar with things with enduring mental presence, this being the allegorical meaning of the tent of meeting (אהל מועד ohel moed).35 Thereafter, one is to move toward the things in experience that are stirred up (ימה westward). Here the word for west comes from the word for sea (ים YaM) that evolved from the verb HaMaH (המה to stir up).36 Finally, one must move toward pondering both the things covering the surface and that are hidden (צפונה Northward). The word used for North (צפון TsaPhoN) evolved from the root TsaPhaH (צפה) meaning to cover over and to watch. In Hebrew the root TsaPhaN (צפן) means to hide, while in Arabic it means to ponder. Therefore, the way of establishing mental presence with a scene is to proceed forward, and scatter about; then to move toward the things that are ever present; then to become familiar with things with enduring mental presence; then to move toward the things stirred up, and finally to move toward the pondering of both the remaining things covering the surface and the things that are hidden.

With regard to the tribes, there are five groupings with each of four groups dominated by one particular tribe. In one’s proceeding forward and scattering about experience (eastward), there is the act of looking repeatedly (דגל banner) of the act of mentally attending to a scene (camp) by becoming startled in acknowledging God’s bringing forth of existence (Y’hudah).18 Associated with this act are Yisaskhar (the act of taking in a hulking handful of enticing things found in going back and forth by tenaciously examining a scene of God’s Guidance with mental persistence)37 and Zebhulun (the being churned up by God’s Guidance found in experience, such that one’s mental persistence liberally pours forth, persistently acquiring an awareness of many startling things).38

Next, moving toward the things that are ever present (southward), there is the act of looking repeatedly (דגל banner) of the act of mentally attending to a scene (camp) by tenaciously examining a scene for an activity of God’s bringing forth of existence, by being mentally persistent in feeling overwhelmed (R’ubhaen).39 Associated with this are Shim’on (an act of repetitively shifting attention from one apparent thing to the next in feeling imposed upon by God’s bringing forth of existence)40 and Gad (taking seriously a new thing that breaks through to the surface in exuberantly trickling through a scene).41

It is at this point that the tent of meeting, the act of becoming familiar with things in being enduringly mentally present,35 moves forward. This is described as the act of mentally attending to a scene (camp) of the many acts of clinging upon a scene with mental persistence, generating an awareness of many startling things (Levites) in the midst of the many acts of mentally attending to the scene (camps). Additionally it says: “As that they encamp, so they shall travel – each upon his hand regarded as their banners.” A literal allegorical translation of this is: “As that they were mentally attending to things, so they were marching forward – an act of being mentally persistent with something in particular upon its reaching – for the sake of their repeatedly looking.” In other words, as a person attends to something in experience, being mentally persistent with that thing, upon the act of reaching toward it, so they will march forward toward it, for the sake of repeatedly looking at it.”

Following this, in moving toward the things in experience that are stirred up (westward), there is the act of looking repeatedly (דגל banner) of the act of mentally attending to a scene (camp) by scattering about and disposing oneself to the deluge of God’s Guidance found in experience (Ephraim).42 Associated with this are M’nasheh (an act of slipping through (and becoming familiar with) what is taken notice of of God’s Guidance)22 and Binyamin (an act of being ever mindfully present with particular things).25

Finally, in moving toward one’s pondering of both the things covering the surface and the things hidden (northward), there is the act of looking repeatedly (דגל banner) of the act of mentally attending to a scene (camp) by abiding in contemplation of God’s Guidance being presented in experience – scanning, feeling out and glancing – when mindfully intermingling, awaiting for what rears up (Dan).43 Associated with this are Ashaer (taking stock of things while exuberantly trickling through experience)28 and Naphtali (being beset upon and entangled by the many subduing aspects of God’s Guidance found in experience when mindfully intermingling with experience).44

The different Levite families (acts of clinging upon a scene with mental persistence, generating an awareness of many startling things) are also positioned around the mishkan in an allegorically relevant way. They are positioned in five groups: the family of Gershon representing the acts of repetitively driving into a scene;45 the family of Qahat representing behaviors of maintaining a visual fix on particular aspects of a scene;46 El’azar representing the act of advancing forward with initiative into what surrounds;17 the family of M’rari representing behaviors of unrelentingly pouring over a scene to completion;47 and Moshe (the mental faculty drawing out particular things from a midst the many stirring things encountered in experience)14 together with Aharon (the mental faculty bringing things to light).15

The family of Gershon (acts of repetitively driving into a scene) are אחרי במשכן “after the mishkan” or allegorically “coming after the act of dwelling upon the scene.” They mentally attend to things (camp), moving toward what is stirred up (westward) in the scene. The behaviors of repetitively driving into a scene (Gershon) are stratifying and prioritizing things (Libhni)48 and being attentive to things (Shim’i).49 Its most elevated (Nasi) behavior is “my advancing forward with initiative is repeated (אליסף)50, a behavior of clinging to an act of advancing forward (לאל).”51 Under their observation (משמרת) were the act of becoming familiar with things with enduring mental presence (the tent of meeting) – the act of dwelling upon a scene (mishkan); and of the becoming familiar with things (tent)52 – its many impressions (covering)53; and the glimpsing (screen)54 associated with the opening of the becoming familiar with things through enduring mental presence (tent of meeting); and many acts of weeding out what is important (hangings)55 of the act of narrowing in upon things (court);56 and the glimpsing (screen) of the opening of the act of narrowing in upon things (court) that is upon the act of dwelling upon the scene (mishkan) and upon the act of flowing forth to experience (altar),57 all around; and the many abundant things strung together (cords)58 of it with regard to all of its devoting attention (service). 59

Whereas, the family of the sons of Qahat (behaviors of maintaining a visual fix on particular aspects of a scene) were mentally attentive (camping) upon the prolonging (side) of the act of dwelling upon the scene (mishkan) – moving toward what is ever present (southward). The behaviors of maintaining a visual fix on aspects of a scene are having a heightened mindfulness (Amram),60 narrowing in upon things (Yitshar),61 repeated acts of sticking with particular things so as to get to know them well (Chevron)62 and one’s showing strength advancing forward into a scene with initiative (Uziel).63 Its most elevated behavior (Nasi) is “one’s advancing forward with initiative toward looking over what lay on the surface (אליצפן)64, a behavior of one’s showing strength advancing forward into a scene with initiative (עזיאל).”65 Under their observation (משמרת) were the acts of repeatedly plucking at things and bringing them into the light (ark),66 and the repeated act of getting in very closely to things (shulchan),67 and the act of shedding light upon things (m’nurah),68 and the acts of flowing forth to things (altars),57 and acts of containing what is brought forward in experience (instruments of holiness),69,70 and the glimpsing (the screen)54 and all of its devoting attention to things (service).59

The way of behaving (most) elevated (Nasi) of the many ways of being elevated of the act of clinging upon a scene with mental persistence, generating an awareness of many startling things (הלוי the Levite) is El’azar (the act of advancing forward with initiative into what surrounds),17 the son of Aharon (an act of bringing things to light),15 the kohaen (act of giving something precise and mindful attention).9 Under its observation is that which is brought forward in experience (holy).

The family of the sons of M’rari (behaviors of unrelentingly pouring over a scene to completion)47 were mentally attentive (camping) upon the prolonging (side) of the act of dwelling upon the scene (mishkan) – moving toward pondering over what covers the surface and what is hidden (northward). The behaviors of unrelentingly pouring over a situation to completion are Mahhli (my spreading myself out)71 and Mushi (my groping at things).72 Its most elevated behavior (Nasi) is “my narrowing in upon something, advancing forward with initiative (צוריאל),73 a behavior of my taking notice of things is of a show of endurance (אביחיל).”74 Under their observation (משמרת) were the things closely gotten into and gnawed upon (boards)75 of the act of dwelling upon the scene (mishkan); and the acts of fully penetrating things associated with it (bars),76 and the things standing out associated with it (pillars),77 and its acts of contemplation (sockets),78 and all of the things contained of it (instruments, tools),69 and all of its devoting attention;59 and the things standing out (pillars) of the act of narrowing in upon things (court)56 – all around, and the many acts of contemplating them (sockets), and the acts of firmly driving into them (pins)79 and the many abundant things strung together (cords)58 of them.

Finally, those mentally attending (camping) with respect to the many presentations as a result of the act of dwelling upon a scene (before the mishkan), proceeding forward into a scene (eastward), with respect to the many presentations80 of the act of becoming familiar with things, of enduring mental presence (before the tent of meeting), scattering about into experience (toward the shining (of the sun)) were Moshe (the mental faculty drawing out particular things from a midst the many stirring things encountered in experience)14 and Aharon (the mental faculty bringing things to light)15 and its behaviors – those observing what is to be observed of what is brought forward (holy), regarded as what is to be observed of the behaviors of making a sustained survey of the many things advancing forward in experience (sons of Israel). These are ways of being mentally attentive with a scene by establishing mental presence.

Notes:
1 – I (אני /aNy) Allegorically: I, in my imposing myself in experience. Derived from the verb /aNaH (אנה) meaning to impose and apply oneself. The other word for I (אנכי /aNoKhy), allegorically meaning “I, in my making my impression,” comes from the verb NaKaH (נכה) literally meaning “to make an impression,” it is used to mean “to strike down.”Although most other Semitic cognates are similar, NaK (נך) in Amharic means “to touch, bear upon, impinge upon, involve (affect), reach (top of wall).”
2 – Elohim (אלהים) plural of Eloah (אלוה) – Although most derive it from El (אל), I believe that the word evolved from LaWaH (לוה) meaning to escort and guide. Hence, initially the word Elohim (אלהים) referred to the pantheon of gods, whose purported purpose was to guide and escort humanity. With the advent of monotheism, the word was used with a singular verb to represent G-d, but continued to be used to represent the pantheons of others, a council of judges and people of similar purpose.
3 – land (ארץ – /eReTs) evolved from RaTsaTs (רצץ to run upon / crush), which evolved from RuTs (רוץ to run) > RaTsaH (רצה to run toward, show favor). The allegory comes from a related noun /aRTsuT (ארצות one’s disposition, how a person runs-shows favor). Related roots evolved from RuTs (רוץ to run) > RaTsaH (רצה (to run toward) > show favor); RaTsaHh (רצח) (run through) > kill; RaTsa\ (רצע) to run > bore through; RaTsaD (רצד) (run with the eyes)(Arb, keep one’s eyes upon) > to spy out, observe with envy (Ps68:17); RaTsaPh (רצף)(to run into > crowd together) to inlay; MaRaTs (מרץ) to make run > go quick > hasten, provoke; RaTsaTs (רצץ to run upon / crush); \aRaTs (ערץ) to charge at > be terror driven, startled, frightened off, panicked
4 – Mitsraim (מצרים). This word for Egypt probably was derived from there being two narrow (צר) strips of arable land on either side of the Nile river. The allegory is based on the idea that narrowing in upon something can have a visual component. Evidence for this can be seen in the evolved words צוהר window; צהרים (time of clarity) before and after noon; יצהר (transparent) oil and the related Arabic ד’הר to be / become visible, perceptible, distinct, clear, apparent, appear, know, learn, noon. Therefore, MiTsRi (מצרי – Egyptian) allegorically represents one’s visually narrowing in upon something. The doubling in Mitsraim (מצרים) suggests a person’s viusally narrowing in upon what narrows in upon the person. I added “feverishly” because the king of Mitsraim is Pharaoh, chaos.
5 – Canaanite – from the root KaNa\ (כנע) meaning to subdue or oppress. A comparison with related roots such as KaNaS (כנס to enter), KaNaPh (כנף wing, (what is drawn in)), KaNaN (כנן to wind around), and KineReT (כנרת the lake, ?drawn into) suggest that literally it means to draw in upon. So Canaan allegorically means one’s being subdued by the many things drawing in from experience from context.
6 – Pharaoh (פרעה) one’s chaotically attempting to attend to too many things in experience. From (Ex5:4)(CrII28:19) to cause to disengage, cause disorder, chaos and Arabic > to be free, available, collect one’s thoughts, devote and apply oneself, and do one’s best.
7 – tabernacle, mishkan (משכן – MiShKaN) Allegorically: one’s (visually) dwelling upon a scene. From the verb ShaKaN (שכן to dwell), from the root KuN (כון to be fixed in place).
8 – clothing (בגד BeGeD) Allegorically: to deliver up basic facts and information. From the (probably unrelated) root BaGaD (בגד) meaning “root, source, what is real, basic fact in Arabic; to betray, give up information, be a traitor, unfaithful, faithless, in Hebrew.
9 – priest (כהן – KoHaeN) related to the noun KaWaNaH (כונה – mindful intention); used as a verb not related to priestly duties (piel) to set / fix in place precisely (Is61:10).
10 – Joshua bin Nun (יהושע – Y’HoShu\a). Allegorically: dwelling upon the extensiveness of G-d’s bringing forth of existence. From: Ya (Y-H-W-H, God’s bringing forth of existence) + HoShu\a (הושוע) from YaSha\ (ישע) the Arabic cognate: (dwell upon / linger with) comprehend > comprehensive, hold accommodate, house, seat, encompass, include, be large enough, wide, roomy, spacious, be capable to do something. From Sha\aH (שעה – to dwell, linger). Nun (נון) to persist, endure (in the same spot) (Ps72:17).
11 – Calaev son of Yiphunah (כלב בן יפונה Kalaebh ben Y’phunah) Allegorically: a person’s doggedly closing in upon something in experience, seizing it and not letting go; a behavior of being directed to face something. From the root KaLaBh (כלב) from which evolved כילבית barnacle and כלוב cage (Jr5:27) (closed ??) basket (Am8:1,2). The root evolved from KaLaH (כלה) meaning “to contain” and “container,” and כָלָה certitude, conviction, decision, and resolution (SmI20:33). Yiphunah (יפונה) is the pual of PaNaH (פנה) to turn, to face; (piel) literally meaning “to rapidly change the face of s.th / s.o” > to prepare a surface > to clear or empty out; (pual) “one who is made to rapidly turn to face s.th.”
12 – Passover (פסח – PeSaHh) Allegorically: leaping. See (KgI18:26)
13 – Lewi – Levi (לוי) from LaWaH (לוה) to take around, escort to, to follow, to cling to, join company of, be attached. In naming him: עתה הפעם ילוה אישי אלי כי ילדתי לו שלשה בנים. Allegorically, the words Pa\aM implies startling, LaWaH implies clinging, \eeSh implies mental persistence, SheLoShaH implies dangling-suspending, BaNim implies activities. Therefore: mentally clinging to a scene, and thus generating an awareness of many startling things
14 – Moshe (משה) allegorically complex, with all of the details of the story, the archetype of Moshe means: “A behavior of being mindfully present with many startling things coming in from experience, in mentally clinging to a scene, sucking up some details and looking them over, considering the many possible directions that one particular thing may go, being more mindful of it, channeling this one particular thing while subduing the thoughts about the others, and in showing resolve and being decisive in attending to this one particular thing, making it a priority, thus drawing it out from a midst the many other stirring things found in experience.” Simplified: “the mental faculty drawing out particular things from a midst the many stirring things encountered in experience.” The verb MaShaH (משה) simply means “to draw out.”
15 – Aharon (אהרן) “the mental faculty bringing things to light;” from the verb HaRaH (הרה – to conceive), but like the related verb HaRHaeR (הרהר), it refers to one’s ability to conceive of something in mind (not in the womb). Also related to these words is the noun HaR (mountain – הר) which literally means “the place of bringing things to light,” a place where one can see and conceive of what is coming due to its elevated perspective.
16 – Yisrael (ישראל) from the verb Sarah (שרה) which does not exactly mean to wrestle, nor does its associated noun exactly mean princess. It means to fix on something either visually or physically. When to fix on something physically, it could be used to mean wrestle. When to fix on something visually, its male counterpart, Sar (שר), means an overseer, a member of the court. Additionally, El (אל) G-d, meaning one advancing forward with initiative such as in el (אל) to, toward; ayil (איל) ram forward; Ya/aL (יאל) to endeavor to advance forward allegorically can be used to mean “what advances forward” and “one’s advancing forward.” Yisrael is an augmentation of Yaaqov (investigating what comes around). Therefore, it is just a bit more than focusing upon the many things advancing forward, because it is an action that is more sustained.
17 – El’azar (אלעזר) one’s advancing toward the things that are around; from El (אל) G-d, meaning one advancing forward with initiative such as in el (אל) to, toward; ayil (איל) ram forward; Ya/aL (יאל) to endeavor to advance forward allegorically can be used to mean “what advances forward” and “one’s advancing forward.” + \aZaR (עזר) surround, around.
18 – Y’hudah (יהודה): from הפעם אודה את יהוה “This time, I shall praise HaShem (G-d’s bringing forth of existence).” Generally understood to mean Ya or G-d’s bringing forth of existence is praised. But /oDeH (אודה – I shall praise), comes from the YaDaH (ידה – to point out) which has neutral, positive and negative connotations. In a neutral context, it means to acknowledge. While in a negative context, YaDaH (ידה) means to blame or acknowledge guilt. Additionally, even though Pa\aM (פעם) means once or this time, its verb means “to startle / be startled.” So in the context of his feeling overwhelmed by all of the instruction coming in from experience, Y’hudah means “his becoming startled in acknowledging G-d’s bringing forth of existence.” It is for this reason that Y’hudah’s first three children are named annoyed-irritated (ער – \aeR), complaining-reluctant (אונן – /oNaN) and indifferent-apathetic (שלה – ShaeLaH)
19 – head (ראש – Ro/Sh) possibly derived from Ra/aH (ראה – to see) which explains the vestigial aleph. Contextually, this always works allegorically as well.
20 – NaHhShon (נחשון) “the act of repetitively feeling about.” From the verb NaHhaSh (נחש) meaning snake, derived from the verb HhuSh (חוש) to sense, feel, experience, and hasten” and in Arabic, “to grope.” The verb NaHhaSh (נחש) in biblical Hebrew means to divine and in modern Hebrew, to guess.
21 – AmiNadav (עמינדב) “the freely flowing forth of the being mindful of the many things crowding in” from people (עם – \aM) allegorically means “being ever presently (mindful) of what crowds in.” It comes from the related roots \aMaH – \aMaM (עמה – עמם) literally meaning to be ever present with. However, when something is ever present with something else, it can be close or too close. Therefore, the words derived from this root reflect closeness: with (עם – \iM), people-crowd (עם – \aM), and connecting (עמה – \uMaH); and those representing being too close: covered over, suppress, ignorant, dim, dark, and blind. In ancient Hebrew and in those Semitic languages retaining the ghayin variant of ayin, the latter words are spelled with ghayin, but are nevertheless etymologically related. AND NaDaBh (נדב) to give of oneself freely, voluntarily.
22 – M’nasheh (מנשה) is “one’s slipping through (and becoming familiar with) what is taken notice of G-d’s Guidance found in experience, deferring it for a later time.” From כי נשני אלהים את כל עמלי ואת כל בית אבי “Because Elohim (G-d’s Guidance) caused me to forget (defer) all that I occupy myself with (in experience) and all that comes in (בוא lend, borrow. In Arabic: put off, postpone, defer, procrastinate, allow some time to pay, grant credit; longevity, stick. Derived from this root is NaSa/ (נשא) to draw off > carry > lift up. His descendents: MaKhyR (מכיר to recognize, become acquainted) and GiL/aD (גלעד) to reveal what is evident.
23 – Gamli-el (גמליאל) “an act of summarizing what advances forward.” From the verb GaMaL (גמל) meaning to suck in to completion, hence camel, to wean (Hb) an summarize (Arb), related to GaMaH (גמה) to take a gulp. Additionally, El (אל) G-d, meaning one advancing forward with initiative such as in el (אל) to, toward; ayil (איל) ram forward; Ya/aL (יאל) to endeavor to advance forward allegorically can be used to mean “what advances forward” and “one’s advancing forward.”
24 – P’dah-tsur (פדהצור) “setting aside the thing upon which one narrows in” from PaDaH (פדה to put aside, save, separate, let go and redeem) and TsuR (צור) narrow > to narrow in upon; boulder (probably meaning: the thing upon which one narrows their sights (as a landmark).
25 – Binyamin (בנימין) – from YaMyN (ימין) meaning ever present / dominant side. A righty puts Tefillin on the left arm (non-dominant) while a lefty puts his Tefillin on his right arm. YaMyN (ימין) evolved from /aMaN (אמן – true, real, believe) means to trust in something’s being ever present. It evolved from /uM (אום – substance, bulk) which literally means “ever present existence.” It also evolved into /iM (אם – if or the possibility of presence) and mother (/aeM – אם) which literally means “who or what that is ever present.”
26 – Avidan (אבידן)“my taking notice of something is as a result of abiding in contemplation of God’s guidance” from /aBhaH (אבה) which in Hebrew means “to be willing to give forth of oneself,” whereas in Arabic it means “to take notice of.” and Dan from DuN (דון to abide in contemplation) which evolves into DyN (דין) to contemplate > judge.
27 – Gid’oni (גדעני) “my repeatedly drawing back from things” from GaDa\ (גדע) to lop off, from GuD (גוד) (to cut across) to split off, draw away from, to form a faction (Gn49:19).
28 – Asher (/aShaeR – אשר) Allegorically: “the act of taking stock of the things present in a scene, in exuberantly trickling through experience.” There are two unrelated Semitic roots spelled /aShaR (אשר). One, meaning “to go directly,” evolved from ShuWR (שור – to see, get a fix on). The other, meaning “to confirm, be supportive of, validate and congratulate” evolved from /uSh (אוש – to make persistent). When naming Asher, the peshat uses the latter meaning, while the allegory utilizes the former. Allegorically Asher (/aShaeR – אשר) means “a person’s intently driving into experience, taking stock of what exists” from the Hebrew, “to go or drive directly with intention;” and the Akkadian, “to review and take stock.”
29 – Pagi-el (פגעיאל) “my haphazardly meeting up with what advances forward in experience” from PaGa\ (פגע) to meet, come upon, strike upon and mishap AND El (אל) G-d, meaning one advancing forward with initiative such as in el (אל) to, toward; ayil (איל) ram forward; Ya/aL (יאל) to endeavor to advance forward allegorically can be used to mean “what advances forward” and “one’s advancing forward.”
30 – Akhran (עכרן) “repetitively moving about turbulently” from \aKhaR (עכר) to agitate, roil, trouble.
31 – testimony (עדות – \aeduT); enduring (עד – \aD); evident-witness (עד – \aeD); endure, meet, appoint (יעד Ya\aD) > meeting (מועד Mo\eD); these related terms all essentially mean “to endure in place or time.”
32 – camp (חנה – HhaNaH), essentially meaning “to establish a presence” and allegorically “a mental presence.” It evolved from HoN (הון – substantial > wealth) and its hiphil (ההין to make/be present, make/be ready; (Dt1:41)), HaeN (חן – here) and HiNaeH (הנה – see here (be present)). Evolved from (חנה – HhaNaH) is HhaNaN (חנן – presence > grace).
33 – banner (דגל DeGeL) Allegorically: looking repeatedly. Although the essential meaning of its associated verb means “to remain at and cover a given point” in Hebrew, Arabic and Aramaic it means “to dupe and deceive.” However, in Akkadian, the associated verb means “to show reverence, to put attention on, and to look repeatedly.”
34 – South, Yemen (תינן Taeman) Allegorically: what is ever present. From YaMyN (ימין) meaning “dominant side > right side.” For example: Tefillin are worn on a person’s non-dominant side – left for a righty and right for a lefty (in other words ימין means dominant side, not right). Which evolved from /aMaN (אמן – true, real, believe) means to trust in something’s being ever present. It evolved from /uM (אום – substance, bulk) which literally means “ever present existence.” It also evolved into /iM (אם – if or the possibility of presence) and mother (/aeM – אם) which literally means “who or what that is ever present.”
35 – tent of meeting (אהל מועד /oHeL Mo\aeD) Allegorically: the act of becoming familiar of being enduringly (mentally) present. In Arabic, the root /aHaL (אהל tent) means “take a wife, be familiar, inhabited; enable, qualify, competence, aptitude).” The following roots all mean: “to endure in place or time.”testimony (עדות – \aeduT); enduring (עד – \aD); evident-witness (עד – \aeD); endure, meet, appoint (יעד Ya\aD) > meeting (מועד Mo\eD);
36 – words from HaMaH (המה – to stir up): YoM (יום – day) literally means “time period causing a stirring.” YaM (ים – sea, what is stirred up); HaeM (הם they, those stirred up); HaMoN (המון those stirred up).
37 – Yisaskhar (יששכר) “taking in a hulking handful of enticing things found in going back and forth by tenaciously examining a scene of God’s Guidance with mental persistence.” In this story, R’ubhaen (tenaciously examining in feeling overwhelmed) finds דוּדָאִים בַּשָּׂדֶה “things that are enticing in the place of frenzied going back and forth” but Rachel (explore while roaming-wandering about) trades these enticing things with Leah (exhaustively taking in a scene) who claims that she is rewarded (שכר) with a fifth son (taking in hand – חמש, from מוש) or allegorically an act of taking things in hand that are enticing.
38 – Zebhulun (זבולן) “being churned up by God’s Guidance found in experience, such that one’s mental persistence liberally pours forth, persistently acquiring an awareness of many startling things.” The sixth (getting lifted up and carried away שש) son to Leah (exhaustively taking in a scene). The relevant words are ZaBhaD (זבד to churn up), ZaBhaL (זבל to carry along, pour forth), /eeSh (איש one who persists > husband, allegorically: one’s mental persistence) and Pa\aM (פעם) “to startle / be startled.”
39 – R’ubhaen (ראובן) “tenaciously examining a scene for an activity of God’s bringing forth of existence by being mentally persistent in feeling overwhelmed.” כי אמרה כי ראה יהוה בעניי כי עתה יאהבני אישי “Because she said (made a tenacious examination – Akk.), because HaShem looked upon what afflicts-overwhelms. And now my husband (/eeSh (איש one who persists > husband, allegorically: one’s mental persistence)) shall lovingly give forth to me.
40 – Shimon (שמעון) repetitive attempts to be attentive to one thing, followed by the next; from verb ShaMa\ (שמע) (stay put) > be attentive, guard, hear. From Gen29:33 כי שמע יהוה כי שנואה אנכי ויתן לי גם את זה With שנואה hated literally meaning “imposed upon” having evolved from אנה > שנה > שנא allegorically indicating that HaShem imposes upon a person with experience leading a person to be repetitively attentive to זה (what is overbearingly, clearly apparent) from unattested ZaHaH (זהה – exude light), see Syriac cognate ZaHa/ (זהא – shining, glorious, splendid, resplendent) and in Arabic (radiant, shine brightly, be haughty).
41 – Gad (גד) “taking seriously a new thing that breaks through to the surface in exuberantly trickling through a scene.” From GuD (גוד) (to cut across) to split off, draw away from, to form a faction (Gn49:19) which is related to GaDaD (גדּדּ) Which in Arabic means: “new (factor), innovative, luck, recent development, recently become fact, grave, take something seriously, strive earnestly. The mother was Zilpah which from ZaLaPh (זלף) means to exuberantly trickle. She being a maid (pouring forth) of Leah (exhaustively taking in a scene). Also she says: בגד B’GaD (which is somewhat obscure – perhaps meaning, “with luck,” but the root means: Allegorically: to deliver up basic facts and information. From root BaGaD (בגד) meaning “root, source, what is real, basic fact in Arabic; to betray, give up information, be a traitor, unfaithful, faithless, in Hebrew.
42 – Ephraim means “one’s disposing oneself to an overwhelming amount of G-d’s Guidance, being scattered about experience.” From: כי הפרני אלהים בארץ עניי “Because G-d’s Guidance made me to scatter about (unattested root PaRaH (פרה) evolved into PaRaR (פרר) as seen in Akkadian: dissolved-broken up-powerless-confused-disperse-scatter-smash-distributed-roam around) in the disposing of oneself (RuTs (רוץ to run) > RaTsaH (רצה to dispose, show favor) > /aRTsuT (ארצות one’s disposition) BUT (RuTs (רוץ to run) > RaTsaH (רצץ to run upon / crush) > /aRTs (ארץ earth)) to all that overwhelms me (עוני from ענה which means to afflict, overwhelm, rape, humiliate etc).
43 – Dan (דן) “by abiding in contemplation of God’s Guidance being presented in experience – scanning, feeling out and glancing – when mindfully intermingling, awaiting for what rears up.” From DuN (דון to abide in contemplation) which evolves into DyN (דין) to contemplate > judge. But also from adding in some details found in his blessing at the end of Genesis. His mother is Bilhah (בלהה intermingling).
44 – Naphtali (נפתלי) “being beset upon and entangled by the many subduing aspects of God’s Guidance found in experience when mindfully intermingling with experience.” From נַפְתּוּלֵי אֱלֹהִים נִפְתַּלְתִּי עִם-אֲחֹתִי גַּם-יָכֹלְתִּי “twistings of God’s guidance, I have become twisted with my sister, also I have prevailed.” But allegorically אחות sister means “what is subduing” from חתה to subdue, be afraid. His mother is Bilhah (בלהה intermingling).
45 – Gershon (גרשן) repeatedly driving into a scene; from GaRaSH (גרש) understood from Hebrew “to divorce” but compare גרש (Akk- to move towards, stride, copulate with); (Arb- (drive into >) grind, crush, grate, bruise); (Syr- to challenge, stir up). Derived from GuR > GRH literally meaning to draw > drive into.
46 – QaHaT (קהת) the act of intently maintaining a visual fix on a scene; from (hold onto firmly) to be obedient (Gn49:10). Based on an unattested root קת (to hold onto firmly) which would have evolved from קשה (be hard / firm / stiff / straight). Also related to קת (Syr – remain fixed, stuck, fix eyes upon / gaze).
47 – M’rary (מררי) traversing through and unrelentingly pouring over a scene to completion; from מר (Arb- pass along something, elapse, traverse, cross, flowing through)
48 – Libhni (לבני) “stratifying and prioritizing things.” From Lavan (לבן) means both white and brick. The verb means to layer bricks. A comparison of related words indicate that this root means to layer out and stratify things such as LaBhaSh (to layer clothing – לבש), LaBhaBh (to layer a cake – לבב), ShaLaBh (to join layers, rungs of a ladder – שלב), HhaLaBh (milk, what layers out – חלב) and L’BhoNah (frankincense, what layers out – לבונה). In Arabic it means undertaking, enterprise, object, wish, aim, and goal; thus indicating that it also means “what layers to the top” or is given a priority (aim / goal).
49 – Shim’i (שמעי) “being attentive to things.” From ShaMa\ (שמע) to listen, be attentive.
50 – Elyasaph (אליסף) “my advancing forward with initiative is repeated.” From El (אל) G-d, meaning one advancing forward with initiative such as in el (אל) to, toward; ayil (איל) ram forward; Ya/aL (יאל) to endeavor to advance forward allegorically can be used to mean “what advances forward” and “one’s advancing forward.” AND YaSaPH (יסף) to do repeatedly.
51 – La/aeL (לאל) “clinging to an act of advancing forward.” La (ל) from LaWaH (לוה) to cling to, be attached to, to join company of, to take around, to escort to, to follow. AND El (אל) G-d, meaning one advancing forward with initiative such as in el (אל) to, toward; ayil (איל) ram forward; Ya/aL (יאל) to endeavor to advance forward allegorically can be used to mean “what advances forward” and “one’s advancing forward.”
52 – tent (אוהל – /oHaeL) allegorically “an act of becoming familiar” from the Arabic meaning “to take a wife, be familiar, inhabited; enable, qualify, competence, aptitude.” Additionally, Job25:5, the only verbal use of the root, may mean “to be familiar.”
53 – cover (מכסה MiKhSeh) Allegorically: many impressions. From K.S.H (כסה) which means “to make marks, cuts, impressions and to cover over.”
54 – screen (מסך MaSaKh) Allegorically: glimpse. From MaSaK (מסכ) Arabic – to grab, grasp, seize quickly, hold fast to, stick, adhere; grip, touch of / glimpse of, greedy.
55 – hangings of (קלעי QaL\ay) Allegorically: many acts of weeding out what is important. The allegory is from QaLa\ (קלע) Arabic – to pluck or pull out with the roots, weed out; lift sail.
56 – courtyard (חצר HhaTsaeR) Allegorically: an act of narrowing in upon things. From the root HhaTsaR (חצר) to enclose around. Derived from TsuR (צור – narrow in).
57 – altar (מזבח – miZBae’aHh) Allegorically refers to the way in which a person flows forth. The verb ZaBhaHh (זבח – make an offering, sacrifice) evolved from ZaBhaH (זבה – to flow), perhaps due to the flowing of blood that occurs with ritual offering.
58 – cords (מיתרים maYTaRim) Allegorically: the many abundant things strung together. From the verb YaTaR (יתר) which in Arabic means “to string, string up, wrong, harm, (string along) cheat, dupe; pull taught, stretch, draw tight, to continue / follow in uninterrupted succession, perform at intervals; uneven, odd#, string, tendon, manner, mode, way.”
59 – service (עבודה \aBhoDaH) Allegorically: devoting attentionץ From (עבד – \aBhaD) to work, serve, slave, worship and devote. Although the noun originally means slave, the verb evolved to mean to work, serve, worship and devote.
60 – Amram (עמרם) having a heightened mindfulness of a scene; from \aM (עם – people) allegorically means “being ever presently (mindful) of what crowds in.” It comes from the related roots \aMaH – \aMaM (עמה – עמם) literally meaning to be ever present with. However, when something is ever present with something else, it can be close or too close. Therefore, the words derived from this root reflect closeness: with (עם – \iM), people-crowd (עם – \aM), and connecting (עמה – \uMaH); and those representing being too close: covered over, suppress, ignorant, dim, dark, and blind. In ancient Hebrew and in those Semitic languages retaining the ghayin variant of ayin, the latter words are spelled with ghayin, but are nevertheless etymologically related.+ RaM (רם – elevated, high, heightened)
61 – Yitshar (יצהר) narrowing in upon a particular thing so as to make it clearer. The allegory is based on the idea that narrowing in upon something can have a visual component. Evidence for this can be seen in the related words צוהר window; צהרים (time of clarity) before and after noon; יצהר (transparent) oil and the related Arabic ד’הר to be / become visible, perceptible, distinct, clear, apparent, appear, know, learn, noon.
62 – Chevron (חברון) repeated acts of sticking with particular things so as to get to know them well; In Hebrew חבר means to join together. That idea is expanded in Arabic: (stick with s.th) to try, experience, know well, inform, communicate, negotiate, seek information.
63 – Uziel (עזיאל) making a show of strength so as to advance forward into a scene with initiative; from \uZ (עוז – strength, power) and El (אל) G-d, meaning one advancing forward with initiative such as in el (אל) to, toward; ayil (איל) ram forward; Ya/aL (יאל) to endeavor to advance forward allegorically can be used to mean “what advances forward” and “one’s advancing forward.”
64 – ELyTsaPhaN (אליצפן ) Allegorically: “one’s advancing forward with initiative toward looking over what lay on the surface.” El (אל) G-d, meaning one advancing forward with initiative such as in el (אל) to, toward; ayil (איל) ram forward; Ya/aL (יאל) to endeavor to advance forward allegorically can be used to mean “what advances forward” and “one’s advancing forward.” The root TsaPhaH (צפה to cover over, to plate) evolved into TsaPhaN (צפן to cover > hide, store) and (צפן TsaPhoN) probably means North because the mountains in the North (Lebanon) are frequently covered with snow. Additionally from the idea of having something covered visually, TsaPhaH (צפה to cover > to guard, watch, look for) evolved into the Arabic cognate of TsaPhaN (צפן to ponder).
65 – Uziel (עזיאל) one’s showing strength is of advancing forward into a scene with initiative; from \uZ (עוז – strength, power) and El (אל) G-d, meaning one advancing forward with initiative such as in el (אל) to, toward; ayil (איל) ram forward; Ya/aL (יאל) to endeavor to advance forward allegorically can be used to mean “what advances forward” and “one’s advancing forward.”
66 – ark (ארון /aRoN), a showcase from the verb /aRaH (ארה – to pluck, pick out) which evolved from /uR (אור – light) thus technically meaning to pluck out into the light.
67 – table (שלחן ShuLHhaN) Allegorically: acts of repetitively getting into things more closely. Formed by prefixing Shin and suffixing Nun to LuaHh (לוח tablet, board), from LaWaHh (לוח – to join together and to be well joined).
68 – menurah (מנורה M’NuRaH) Allegorically: an act of shedding light upon things. Related to Arabic: NuR (נור to light, illuminate, enlighten)
69 – instruments of (כלי K’LaY) Allegorically: containings of. From the verb KaLaH (כלה) to contain.
70 – Holy (קדש – QoDeSh, QaDoSh) Allegorically: what is brought forward. Related to the roots meaning to put the head forward – QaDaD (קדד – to bow), QaDQaD (קדקד – crown of head) and QaDaM (קדם to proceed, advance forward); QaDaR (קדר – to drop the head > to duck under, gloomy, potter), QaDaHh (קדח – (drop the head) > to bore into, pierce), ShaQaD (שקד – watch intently, be watchful of, be vigilant, be determined), \aQaD (עקד – to draw the head toward the feet; fix the eyes on s.th, be deter-mined to do s.th (Arb)) The root QaDaSh (קדש) fundamentally means to advance something forward (so as to dedicate for sanctified use)
71 – MaHhLy (מחלי) “my spreading myself out.” From MaHhaL (מחל) which evolved from MaHhaH (מחה) “to spread, rub, wipe, to hit / strike upon, stretch out / extend over-across,” but used to mean “forgive, pardon.”
72 – MuShy (מושי) “my groping at things,” from MuSh (מוש to grope)
73 – TsuRyaeL(צוריאל) “my narrowing in upon something, advancing forward with initiative.” From TsuR (צור) to be narrow, narrow in upon AND El (אל) G-d, meaning one advancing forward with initiative such as in el (אל) to, toward; ayil (איל) ram forward; Ya/aL (יאל) to endeavor to advance forward allegorically can be used to mean “what advances forward” and “one’s advancing forward.”
74 – AviHhaYiL (אביחיל) “my taking notice of things is of a show of endurance.” From /aBhaH (אבה) which in Hebrew means “to be willing to give forth of oneself,” whereas in Arabic it means “to take notice of.” AND HhaYiL (חיל endurance)
75 – boards of (קרשי QaRShay) Allegorically: the things closely gotten into and gnawed upon. From QaRaSh (קרש) which in Arabic means “to gnash, grind (one’s teeth), crunch, and chew.” Roots based on the biliteral root Q.R. (קר) essentially mean “to get in very close”: KaRaH (קרה to come upon, happen occur); QaRa/ (קרא to call closer, call out to, meet, call and read); QaRaBh (קרב to approach); QaRaM (קרם to cover closely, membrane, encrust, plate); QaRaN (קרן horn, to project); QaRa\ (קרע (get closely into) to tear into, to put on eye liner); QaRaSh (קרש to contract, gnash, bite into); QaRaS (קרס to stoop, clasp); QaRaTs (קרץ to pinch off, squint, purse); NaQaR (נקר to gouge, chisel); ShaQaR (שקר to gouge > deceive, lie).
76 – bars (בריחים B’RyHhim) Allegorically: the acts of fully penetrating things. From ברח (to go clear through > escape, bar). Most of the roots with BaR (בר) literally mean to make a clearing, to clear away, or to go clear through, hence בור (clearing > pit), באר (clearing > well, to clearly elucidate), בער (to clear away > clear a field, burn), ברר (to clear away > sift), ברא (to clear away > to sculpt, create, carve, cut down), ברח (to go clear through > escape, bar), ברך (to go clear through > to excel, be / declare excellent; to make a clearing > kneel, pool), ברק (to go clear through > lightening). שבר (break, literally means “to go clear through”)
77 – pillars (עמודים \aMuDim) Allegorically: the things standing out. From \aMaD (עמד – to stand, remain). But Akkadian: to lean on, impose, come in contact with, reaches to; Arabic: to prop, lean upon, apply oneself, support one’s weight. Related Hebrew: \eeMaDi (עמדי – with me (= leaning-relying upon me)). But derived from MaDaD (מדד) (to extend outward) to measure. Arabic: M.D.Y. (מדּי) to draw out, last > continue; go far / to extremes, extension, expanse, stretch.
78 – sockets (אדן /edeN) Allegorically: acts of contemplation. Related to Adon (/aDoN – אדון), lord. Both come from the verb DuN (דון) to abide (in contemplation) which comes from DuM (דום – to be still, silent). Furthermore, from DuN (דון) to abide (in contemplation) comes DYN (דין) to judge. A socket is a place in which a pin abides.
79 – pins (יתד YaTaeD) Allegorically: act of firmly driving in. Arabic cognate: W.T.D. (ותּדּ) to drive / ram in firmly; fix, fasten, secure; peg, pin, stake, pole.
80 – before (לפני LiPhNay) Allegorically: with respect to the many presentations of or the many things being presented of. From the verb PaNaH (פנה) to face > PaNim (פנים) face(s), aspects, presentations.

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About the Author
David Kolinsky is a retired physician born and raised in Monsey, New York. While living in Monterey California, David initially lived as a secular, agnostic Jew. However, in his spare time, he delved into twenty years of daily study of Hebrew etymology and Torah study culminating in the writing of an etymological dictionary of Biblical Hebrew and a metaphorical translation of Torah. Abandoning his agnostic views, David was simultaneously a spiritual leader of the world's smallest conservative synagogue, a teacher in his local reform synagogue, and a gabbai at Chabad. He is currently sheltering in place with his family in his new home in Plano, Texas.
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