Allegorically, Mitsraim represents a person’s attempts to focus (narrow in) upon the many things that are narrowing in, from experience.1 This being bombarded by many things forces a person to develop a means to cope with such a large amount of information. There is an initial tendency to be as Pharaoh, “attending to many things in chaotically going in many directions.”2 But behaving as Pharaoh is ineffective, and therefore untenable.
This is the reason why Pharaoh made a manager of Yoseph (the act of serially gathering in things jabbing of G-d’s bringing forth of existence, while roaming about, being clear minded, attentive and receptive to G-d’s guidance).3 As a means of processing all of the data encountered in experience, Pharaoh gave Yoseph a wife, Asnat (the ability to sift through things).4 Their first child, M’nasheh (the act of slipping through what is taken notice of of G-d’s Guidance, deferring it for a later time)5 enables a person to perform a quick review of the many things encountered in experience. Their second child, Ephraim (the act of serially disposing oneself to an overwhelming amount of G-d’s Guidance, scattering about experience)6 represents an attempt to examine each individual detail much more closely. However, the birth of Ephraim occurs just before the beginning of the famine. This was no coincidence. Although, the word Ra\aBh (רעב) with a ghayin does mean hunger in Arabic and Ugaritic, its progenitor with an ayin means to be alarmed7 in Arabic. That attempt to take on every little detail encountered in experience, represented by Ephraim, led to the feeling alarmed by experience.
This feeling of alarm caused Yaaqov (one’s investigating what comes around)8 to withhold Binyamin (the being ever presently mindful).9 This led Yoseph not to trust the information being conveyed to him by his brothers (the mental faculties pointing things out regarding experience),10 accusing them of being spies (purveyors of false information)11 and thus forcing them to prove their ability to be Kanim,12 trustworthy, sources of information.
Wow, that was an exhausting summary of the allegory of the last three parshiot – you may want to reread that a few more times. For mental exhaustion is exactly where we want to be right now. Since it was after these many things (ויהי אחרי הדברים האלה), the things encountered in experience that were barraging, that were barreling down,13 that Yoseph (the ability to serially process information) found out that his father, his taking notice of things,14 was sick. The Hebrew word for sick is HhaLaH (חלה) it evolved from the word LaHaH (להה) meaning to languish, which had evolved from the word La/aH (לאה), meaning to labor to exhaustion. Even in the face of exhaustion, Israelites are not quitters. When they see that they cannot prevail, they strike upon the underside (KaPh (כף) – force) of the thigh (YeReKh (ירך) – long > endurance), thus fastening and thrusting forward (TaQa\ – תקע) with resolve. The allegorical difference between Yaaqov and Yisrael is subtle but important. Unlike with the prior renaming of archetypes, the name Yaaqov never ceases to be utilized. In contrast, once Sarai and Avram become Sarah and Avraham, their previous incarnations are never referred to again. Yaaqov represents a person’s investigating what comes around in experience.
Yisrael is an augmentation of that behavior: כי שרית עם אלהים ועם אנשים ותוכל “Because you have fixated (physically and visually) with Elohim (G-d’s guidance found in experience)15 and with /aNaShim (men – acts of applying oneself in experience),16 and you have prevailed.” Although in this blog’s past I have translated Yisrael as “the act of focusing upon the many things advancing forward in experience,”17 I will now modify this slightly to more accurately convey the subtlety of its meaning. Whereas the essence of Yaaqov is to investigate one thing at a time as it is encountered in experience, Yisrael represents a more thorough and sustained survey of many things encountered in experience. Therefore, I am now translating Yisrael as “the making of a sustained survey of the many things advancing forward in experience.”
In order to compensate for the languishing of his ability to take notice of things (the illness of his father) – Yoseph was taking up the imposing (Sh’Naey – שני)18 of his actions (sons), there was a drawing out (w’yaGaeD – ויגד)19 for the sake of his investigating what was coming around, and Yisrael was strengthening himself (ויתחזק) and settling in upon the bed (מטה – what was stretched out (in experience)).20 Yaaqov explains to Yoseph, how he had been blessed by El Shaddai, who promised to make him fruitful and increase him. This alludes to the transformation from Yaaqov to Yisrael, from dealing with one thing at a time to many things at once. Although not explicit in the peshat, this is the explanation for Yaaqov’s adoption of Yoseph’s children, that they might facilitate his ability to process information.
However, the text now tells us that “the eyes of Yisrael were heavy from old-age. He was not able to see.” Because his eyeings or observations of experience were heavy with an abundance of things to process, he was not able to see much more. In order for him to overcome this situation, his abilities needed to be augmented. Usually, the Torah augments an archetype through blessing or through name change. Since the verb BaRaKh literally means to make a clearing (to kneel, pool of water) or to go clear through to extremes (to bless),21 blessing a person serves to augment their archetypal abilities. Yaaqov’s name change to Yisrael, where the archetype goes from investigating one thing to many, serves as an example of the latter. However, we have here a situation where Yoseph has two behaviors, represented by M’nasheh and Ephraim. The name M’nasheh is based on the verb NaSaH (נשה) meaning to forget in Hebrew and to postpone or put off in Arabic. As a child of Yoseph (serially gathering in from experience) and Asnat (sifting through experience), it refers to a behavior of taking notice of something and then putting it off for a later time.
When a person encounters a lot of data or detail, M’nasheh is the first behavior utilized, the BaKhoR (בכור – firstborn). The name of Ephraim is based on the verb PaRaH (פרה – to scatter > be fruitful) – “Because Elohim made me fruitfully scatter in the land of my affliction.” Although the word for land (/eReTs – ארץ) evolved from the root RaTsaTs (רצץ – to run upon and crush), its allegorical meaning is based on a similarly appearing word /aRTsoT (ארצות – one’s disposing oneself), derived from the related root RaTsaH (רצה – to run toward, dispose oneself, show favor). Ephraim differs from M’nasheh, because where M’nasheh encounters something in experience and defers it for later, Ephraim runs toward it and disposes himself to it. M’nasheh is a cursory review of particular things encountered in experience. Ephraim is a more engaging review.
In order to augment their archetypal behaviors, Yoseph presents the his sons in an imposed, augmented state. This is indicated first by bringing them out from between his knees (ברכיו – his excelings), then taking the “two of them” (שניהם – the imposing of them), and finally by presenting Ephraim in his ever present, dominant side (ימין)22 and M’nasheh in his weaker side (שמאל).23 This would put the first born M’nasheh into Yisrael’s dominant (ever present) hand and the younger Ephraim, into his non-dominant (weaker) hand. But this does not serve Yisrael’s purpose of augmenting his archetypal abilities. Instead, he interweaves his hands and then imparts his blessing.
While a cursory review initially and a more focused review later may work for his Yoseph (his serially gathering in things jabbing of G-d’s bringing forth of existence, while roaming about, being clear minded, attentive and receptive to G-d’s guidance); it does not work for his Yisrael (his making of a sustained survey of the many things advancing forward in experience). However, the text tells us this was bad in the eyes of Yoseph, or allegorically that it was a poor performance with the eyeings of experience for his Yoseph. Therefore, Yoseph supported his hand, to remove it from Ephraim to M’nasheh. Nevertheless, his father refused. The word for refuse, Ma/aeN (מאן), evolved from the root (אנה – to impose oneself), /aNaH. So allegorically, his taking notice of things was imposing itself. In so doing, the emphasis was shifted from an initial cursory review of experience (M’nasheh), to a more vigorous study of each thing encountered in experience (Ephraim).
Yisrael concludes his blessing of Yoseph saying: ואני נתתי לך שכם אחד על אחיך אשר לקחתי מיד האמרי בחרבי ובקשתי “And I am assigning to you one shoulder above your brothers, in that I have taken from the hand of the Amorite, through my sword and my bow.” In order to unpack this, let us look at the allegorical meaning of Amorite first. From a Hebrew perspective, one might presume that this root has something to do with saying something (אמר – /aMaR, to say). But this root (/aMaR – אמר) evolved from MaRaH (מרה – to flow, be sticky, be bitter). In various Semitic languages, the essential meaning of this root is “sticky, to stick with” with words such as pericardium, characteristic, to learn from something, to reason, and to expound upon. In Akkadian, this root means “to look at, see, inspect, examine, and catch sight of.” Taking into consideration that later in the Torah the king of the Amorites is SiHhon (סיחון – to muse (שוח > סוח) and to converse persuasively) and his city is HheShBon (חשבון – to consider, think about), “tenacious examination” is the best allegorical translation. Although Shekhem (שכם) means shoulder, the associated verb is usually translated as “to awaken early.” It also means “to shoulder something, to make an effort, to prepare and to venture forth.”
The number one (אחד – /eChaD) evolved from the verb HhaDaD (to sharpen – חדד), but allegorically from HhuD (חוד – to test mental acumen), it means mentally sharp. So allegorically this line can be translated: “And I am assigning to you an act of venturing forth with vigilance and sustained effort, one of a sharpened mind, over the mental faculties pointing things out for you regarding experience, in that I have taken up from the power of tenaciously examining experience, with my ravaging experience and through my remaining firm.” This reiterates Yoseph’s role established through his dreams and his becoming viceroy to Pharaoh. His brothers (the mental faculties pointing things out for him regarding experience) point out what is encountered in experience for the purpose of investigating individual things (Yaaqov) and for the purpose of making a sustained survey (Yisrael). But all information must first go through Yoseph’s filter, a filter of venturing forth (שכם), of being mentally sharp (אחד), and of serially examining the information.
After reiterating Yoseph’s importance and blessing Yoseph’s sons, Yaaqov goes on to bless each of his male children. Each child represents a means of acquiring information from experience and of making an investigation. Last week’s blog analyzed the names of Asher’s children:24 “And the behaviors (sons) of intently driving into experience, taking stock of what exists (Asher) were recounting and classifying things (ימנה – Yimnah), and making comparisons (ישוה – Yishwah), and determining a thing’s value (ישוי – Yishwi), and undertaking to deal with a particular thing (בריעה – B’ri\ah); and the allowing oneself to become distracted (שרח – SeraHh) is what subdues them.” In this parshah, the blessing for Asher is: מאשר שמנה לחמו והוא יתן מעדני מלך “From Asher, his food-bread will be succulent, such that he shall give forth the refreshments-delicacies of a king.” Consider that LeHheM (לחם – bread, food) literally means “what engages together,” 25 and SheMeN (שמן – oil) literally means “what exudes outward,”26 and MeLeKh (מלך – king) literally means “one who deliberates.”27 Therefore, allegorically it means: “As a result of intently driving into experience, taking stock of what exists, his closely engaging things will be what exudes outward into experience, such that he shall give forth what rejuvenates deliberation.”
Allegorically, Yisrael is an archetype, his name represents a behavior, a pattern of thinking – a person’s making of a sustained survey of the many things advancing forward in experience. Therefore, as their father, their means of taking notice of things (Arabic of אבה), he doesn’t die. In fact, as in English, the word for bury (QaBhaR – קבר) also means to flood and inundate. Because Binyamin means “a behavior of being (mindfully) ever present,” throughout the last chapters of Genesis, Binyamin was singled out from his brothers. Whereas each son’s blessing is its own paragraph, that of Binyamin is physically attached to the paragraph about Yaaqov’s death. This indicates how important being mindfully ever present is to his being flooded by experience. Allegorically Binyamin’s blessing says: “Being mindfully ever present is an overflowing of self (wolf = howler). It throws itself into an investigation (בקר), embracing evidence (עד). And regarding confusion (ערב), it enumerates what remains loosely suspended-plundered from experience.” Perfectly attuned to this task, being mindfully ever present is a superior means of investigating experience, of making a sustained survey of what advances forward in experience.
Like the word to bury, the allegorical meaning of the word to die (MuT – מות) has the paradoxical meaning of “to be completely drawn out,” or fully manifest. Its essential meaning of extending something in space or time can be seen by examining the related roots MaTaQ (מתק – to savor), MaTaiy (מתי – (drawn out to) when), and MaTaHh (מתח – to draw, spread out). In order to bury his father, to flood his taking notice of things in experience, Yosef was commanding his servants and the healers-physicians to mummify his father, Yisrael. The word HhaNaT (חנט – to mummify) evolved from HhaNaH (חנה) and is therefore related to HhaNaKh (חנך). Although HhaNaH means to encamp and HhaNaKh means to dedicate and to train, literally all three mean “to establish presence,” with HhaNaT (חנט – to mummify) literally meaning “to establish a permanent presence.” The verb to heal (RaPha/ – רפא) evolved from RaPhaH (רפה) meaning to spread out > to dissipate, release, let go, let slack, and relax. So Yoseph called upon his acts of devoting attention (עבדיו, his servants) and the acts of causing a spreading out in all directions (physicians) to establish a permanent presence for his taking notice of things in experience (his father), for the making of a sustained survey of what advances forward in experience (Yisrael). They then fulfilled the forty days of mummification – forty being a further representation of flooding and inundation from the verb RaBha\ (רבע – to spread in four directions, lie down).
Then the mourning party ascended toward Canaan and came into the threshing floor (GoReN – גרן) of the /aTaD (אטד). There they mourned a great mourning of great intensity. And he made for his father a mourning of seven days. The word /aTaD (אטד) means thorn and bramble. Although not definitive, this word probably evolved from the root TsaDaH (צדה) meaning something that captures from the side (TsaD – צד). Therefore, after having established a permanent (mental) presence, there was a threshing of that which was catching (his attention) from the side. Two words are used here for mourning. The word /aeBheL (אבל) evolved from /aBhaH (אבה) which in Hebrew means to give forth to and yield to. The other SaPhaD (ספד) evolved from PaDaH (פדה – to separate, put aside). Interestingly, a related Arabic verb (פיד) means to become acquainted. So the allegory here is one of complete submersion into the details of experience, threshing through what catches from the side, yielding and giving forth to the taking notice of things and becoming acquainted, greatly and of great intensity.
Later, when Yoseph dies, he is also mummified such that his serially gathering in things jabbing of G-d’s bringing forth of existence, while roaming about, being clear minded, attentive and receptive to G-d’s guidance was made into a permanent presence as well. He was placed into an /aRoN (ארון). Although, generally translated as an ark, coffin or chest; the word is derived from the root /aRaH (ארה – to pluck, to kindle) which from the word /uR (אור – light) literally means “to bring to light, out into the light.” So an /aRoN perhaps can best be translated as a showcase. Allegorically, it represents Yoseph, as the mental faculty serially gathering in information from experience in a repetitive state of bringing things to light, through the acts of focusing upon the many things narrowing in from experience (Mitsraim).
Thus ends the first book of the Torah (the teaching), B’raeshit (בראשית). A book whose name alludes to how humans see and perceive the world of G-d’s creation, from the Ro/Sh (ראש – Ro/Sh), one’s place of seeing (ראה – Ra/aH).
1 – 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 “distractedly” because the king of Mitsraim is Pharaoh
2 – Pharaoh (פרעה) one’s chaotically attempting to attend to too many things in experience. From (Ex5:4)(CrII28:19) from PaRa\ (פרע) 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. In Arabic PaRa\ evolved into PaRa\g
3 – Yoseph (יוסף) In naming Yoseph, the text says that G-d’s guidance (Elohim) was remembering (being clear minded), attentive to and opening the womb of Rachel and gathering in (/aSaPh = אסף) [her] censure-taunt-sharply jabbing. The word ReHheM (רחם – womb), from the root RaWaHh (רוח – wide) means facilitating expansiveness for someone or something. These are the supplemental behaviors that allow roaming about to be an effective way of gathering in information. Therefore, allegorically Yoseph means “a person’s repeatedly gathering in another thing that is jabbing of G-d’s bringing forth of existence, in exploring while roaming about, being clear minded, attentive and receptive to G-d’s guidance found in experience.”
4 – Asnat the daughter of Poti-Pera\, the priest of On (אסנת בת פוטי פרע כהן אן) meaning “the act of sifting through things (סנן – to refine, filter, strain (Jastro)), characterized by a bursting forth in many directions (PuT – פוט unattested, but evolved into PaTaR (פטר to burst forth)) in chaotically attempting to attend to many things (see פרע – Pharaoh), a means of giving protracted, precise and mindful attention (כהן – KaHaN, related to noun KaWaNaH כונה mindful intention) to a substantial amount (און – /oN) of information.”
5 – M’nasheh is “one’s slipping through 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 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)
7 – Ra\aBh (רעב). This root evolved from Ra\aH (רעה) meaning poor, bad, weak and fragile. In Arabic, the most immediate evolved form, spelled with an ayin, Ra\aBh (רעב) does not mean “to be hungry” but rather “to be afraid, scared, alarmed, and terrified.” From there, the ayin evolved into a ghayin, so that Ra\gaBh (רעב) means to want, wish, crave, covet, and appetite in Arabic and to be hungry in Ugaritic.
8 – Yaaqov (יעקב) from the root \aQaBh (עקב) which essentially means “to twist around.” Across the Semitic languages, this root is used to mean “to constrain, to follow, to come after, to trace, to approach closely, to investigate, to criticize, and to grab the heel (supplant)
9 – 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.”
10 – brother – (אח – /aCh) most probably was derived from the root ChaWaH (חוה) which in Arabic means to join someone and to join the company of. Usually the allegorical meaning of a word is based on this type of etymological connection. However, sometimes the Torah makes up an artificial folk etymology. Because Hebrew uses the same letter symbol, ח, for two different consonantal sounds (Hhet and Chet), there is another חוה in Hebrew, (HhaWaH) which means to point out and instruct. Based on context, the allegorical meaning of the word brother (אח) comes from the similarly spelled root HhaWaH (חוה) and not the etymologically correct root ChaWaH (חוה). Allegorically, a brother is one who points something out or points the way.
11 – spies (m’RaGLim – מרגלים). According to Gesenius, this word means not only to spy, but also one who delivers false reports
12 – Kaenim (כנים) means stable, reliable, trustworthy; from the root KuN (כון – to be firm)
13 – DaBhaR (thing- דבר) In most Semitic languages the root DaBaR (דבר) means to drive at and to direct. Even in Hebrew, the same piel form of the verb that usually means to speak means “to drive over, barrel down, to kill” (CrII22:10). The word DeBheR (דבר) means plague for this reason. Although miDBar (מדבר – wilderness, place of flash floods) may simply mean “a place requiring direction or guidance,” the fact of geography and the frequent occurrence of flash floods suggests to me otherwise.
14 – father /aBh (אב) derives from /aBhaH (אבה) which in Hebrew means “to be willing to give forth of oneself,” whereas in Arabic it means “to take notice of.”
15 – 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.
16 – Men (/aNaShim – אנשים) from the noun /eNoSh (אנוש), evolved from the root /aNaH (אנה) meaning to impose or apply oneself. Therefore the meaning is those applying-imposing themselves in experience
17 – Yisrael (ישראל) from the verb Sarah (שרה), from which comes the name Yisrael (ישראל). It 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.”
18 – two (Sh’Naey – שני) from ShaNaH (שנה – to sharpen > repeat), from /aNaH (אנה – to impose)
19 – drawing out (w’yaGaeD – ויגד) from NaGaD (נגד – to draw off from > draw out)
20 – bed (מטה – MiTaH) from NaTaH (נטה – to stretch, incline)
21 – bless (BaRaKh – ברך) 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)
22 – 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.”
23 – weaker side (שמאל) evolved from MuL (מול – frayed, threadbare, attentuated)
24 – ובני אשר ימנה וישוה וישוי ובריעה ושרח אחותם ובני בריעה חבר ומלכיאל “And the children of Asher were Yimnah, and Yishwah, and Yishwi and B’ry\ah and Serach, their sister. And the children of B’ry\ah were Chebher and Malki’ael.”
– recounting and classifying things (ימנה – Yimnah) from the verb MaNaH (מנה) – to distribute, count, assign, classify
– making comparisons (ישוה – Yishwah) from the verb ShaWaH (שוה) – be equal, equivalent, worth, compare in value
– determining a thing’s value (ישוי) from the verb ShaWaH (שוה) – be equal, equivalent, worth, compare in value
– undertaking to deal with a particular thing (בריעה) from the Arabic verb BaRa\ (ברע) – undertake, to be ready / at hand, prepared, volunteer, contribute; to excel, surpass, distinguish oneself, be skillful, proficient
– allowing oneself to become distracted (שרח) – Arabic to roam and wander & Syriac to roam, w/o restraint, indulge
– what subdues them (אחותם) – sister (אחות – /aChoT) technically derived from (אח – /aCh, brother). However, the allegorical use is not related to this etymology. Instead, it is based on the root ChaTaT (חתת) meaning to press down upon, to subdue, and to frighten. Therefore, the allegory means “what subdues in experience.”
25 – LeHheM (לחם – bread, food) literally means “what engages together.” It is related to the word MiLHhaMah (מלחמה – to engage in battle). Both words derive from LaWaHh (לוח – to join together and to be well joined). In Arabic, לחם means to cling, join, solder, get stuck, engage in battle
26 – SheMeN (שמן – oil) literally means “what exudes outward.” It evolved from the verb MaNaH (מנה) – to distribute, count, assign, classify.
27 – King (MeLeKh – מלך) from the verb MaLaKh (מלך) to rule, it evolved from MaLaHh (מלח) to balance > to sail. It is more appropriately translated as to deliberate > to act deliberately. But also means to deliberate, as can be seen in the Akkadian to consider, discuss, advise, look after, mind, and confer
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