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Chabad ^ | 12/3/2007 | Chabad

Posted on 12/03/2007 12:59:38 PM PST by MeanWestTexan

---------------------- Lighting the Darkness ----------------------

Some 2,200 years ago, the Land of Israel came under the rule of the Syrian-Greek emperor Antiochus, who issued a series of decrees designed to force his Hellenistic ideology and rituals upon the Jewish people. He outlawed the study of Torah and the observance of its commands, and defiled the Holy Temple in Jerusalem with Greek idols.

A small, vastly outnumbered band of Jews waged battle against the mighty Greek armies, and drove them out of the land. When they reclaimed the Holy Temple, on the 25th of Kislev, they wished to light the Temple's menorah ("candelabra"), only to discover that the Greeks had contaminated virtually all the oil. All that remained was one cruse of pure oil, enough to last one night – and it would take eight days to procure new, pure oil.

Miraculously, the one-day supply of oil lasted eight days and nights, and the holiday of Chanukah was established.

See below, The Chanukah Story, for a more detailed version of these events.

To commemorate and publicize these miracles, we light the Chanukah menorah (also known as a chanukiah) on each of the eight nights of Chanukah. This year, we start lighting the menorah on Tuesday evening, December 4, 2007.

---------------------- The Menorah ----------------------

The basic elements of a kosher menorah are eight holders for oil or candles and an additional holder, set apart from the rest, for the shamash ("attendant") candle.

The Chanukah lights can either be candle flames or oil-fueled. Since the miracle of Chanukah happened with olive oil – the little cruse of oil that lasted for eight days – an oil menorah is preferable to a candle one, and olive oil is the ideal fuel. Cotton wicks are preferred because of the smooth flame they produce. Whenever purchasing a mitzvah article, we try to buy the most beautiful one that is within our means. So, if at all possible, go for the silver menorah. Beautifying a mitzvah is our way of expressing our appreciation to Gd, and showing how dearly we hold His commandments.

The eight candles of the menorah must be arranged in a straight, even line, not in a zigzag or with some lights higher than others. If it is an oil menorah, the oil cups must hold enough oil to burn for the required time – at least 30 minutes on weeknights, and up to one-and-a-half hours on Friday evening (see below, Special Shabbat Rules). If it is a candle menorah, the candles should be large enough to burn for the required time.

Electric menorahs are great for display purposes, and are a wonderful medium for publicizing the Chanukah miracle. But the Chanukah lights used to fulfill the mitzvah should be real flames fueled by wax or oil – like the flames in the Holy Temple.

---------------------- The Shamash ----------------------

The shamash – the "attendant" candle that is used to kindle the other lights – sits a bit higher or lower than the other candles, on the ninth branch of the menorah. Many have a tradition to use a beeswax candle for the shamash.

Though the shamash's primary function has been served once the candles have been lit, we don't extinguish the shamash. Instead, we set it in its place adjacent to the other lights, ready to "serve" in case a candle blows out. Another reason why we leave the shamash lit is because it is forbidden to use the Chanukah lights for any practical reason. This way, if a candle is needed, the shamash is available for use, preserving the sanctity of the mitzvah lights.

---------------------- Who Lights the Menorah ----------------------

Men and women alike are obligated to participate in the menorah lighting. In some families, the head of the household lights the family menorah while everyone else listens to the blessings and answers, "Amen." In many other families, all members of the household, including children, light their own menorahs. Either way, it is important for everyone to be present and involved when the Chanukah miracle is festively commemorated.

-------------------------- Where to Place the Menorah --------------------------

Light the menorah in your own home. If you are traveling out of town, set up your menorah wherever you will be staying for the night. If you will be spending the night in a Jewish home, you have the option of giving your host a dollar or so, a symbolic contribution towards the menorah expenses, and then you are covered by his/her menorah lighting - or better yet, light your own menorah too. Two candles are more powerful than one!

Students who live in dormitories or their own apartments should kindle menorahs in their own rooms.

In the home, there are two preferred locations for the menorah. You can set up the menorah in a central doorway. Place it on a chair or small table near the doorpost that is opposite the mezuzah. This way, when you pass through the doorway, you are surrounded by two mitzvot - the mezuzah and the menorah. Ideally, the menorah lights should be between 12 and 40 inches off the ground.

Or you can set up your menorah on a windowsill facing the street. This option should only be exercised if the window is less than thirty feet above ground-level.

------------------------ When to Light the Menorah ------------------------

The custom of many communities (and such is the Chabad-Lubavitch custom) is to light the menorah shortly after sunset. In other communities, the menorah is kindled after nightfall (approximately thirty minutes after sunset). Either way, the menorah must contain enough fuel to burn for at least thirty minutes after nightfall.

Regardless of the custom you follow on other Chanukah nights, on Friday night the menorah is lit before sunset, and on Saturday night it is lit after nightfall. See below, Special Shabbat Rules, for more information.

Ideally, you should light the menorah at the earliest possible opportunity. Only delay if you are awaiting the arrival of family members who wish to be present when the menorah is lit. The Chanukah lights may be lit as long as there are people in the streets, or as long as there is another family member awake to participate - but no later than one half hour before dawn. (If no other household member is awake and the streets are already quiet, light the menorah without reciting the blessing.)

Click here to find out sunset and nightfall times for your location:

If you must light the candles before sunset, see the following link:

----------------------- Lighting the Menorah -----------------------

1. Arrange the lights on the menorah. Ensure that there is enough oil, or that the candles are big enough, for the lights to burn until half an hour after nightfall (or, if lighting after nightfall, for one half hour). On the first night, set one candle to the far right of the menorah. On the following night, add a second light to the left of the first one, and then add one light each night of Chanukah - moving from left to right.

2. Gather everyone in the house around the menorah.

3. Light the shamash candle. Then hold it in your right hand (unless you are left-handed).

4. While standing, recite the appropriate blessings (see below).

5. Light the candles. Each night, light the newest (left-most) candle first and continue lighting from left to right. (We add lights to the menorah from right to left, while we light from left to right.)

----------------------------------------------- The Blessings -----------------------------------------------

Before lighting the Chanukah candles, we thank Gd for giving us this special mitzvah, and for the incredible Chanukah miracles:

Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai E-lo-he-nu Me-lech ha-olam a-sher ki-de-sha-nu be-mitz-vo-tav ve-tzi-va-nu le-had-lik ner Chanukah.

Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai E-lo-hei-nu Me-lech ha-olam she-a-sa ni-sim la-avo-te-nu ba-ya-mim ha-hem bi-z'man ha-zeh.

[Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to kindle the Chanukah light.

Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who performed miracles for our forefathers in those days, at this time.]

On the first night of Chanukah, Tuesday, December 4, 2007 (or the first time on Chanukah you perform this mitzvah), add the following blessing:

Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai E-lo-he-nu Me-lech ha-olam she-heche-ya-nu ve-ki-yi-ma-nu ve-higi-a-nu liz-man ha-zeh.

[Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has granted us life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this occasion.]

For the Hebrew text and audio recording of the blessings, please click here:

----------------------- Relish the Lights -----------------------

After you finish kindling the menorah lights, place the shamash candle in its designated place on the menorah. At this point it is traditional to sing Chanukah hymns such as Haneirot Halalu and/or Maoz Tzur.

Linger around the menorah for about half an hour (aside for Friday afternoon, when Shabbat preparations are in full gear). Share some Chanukah stories with your family, enjoy a draidel game and indulge in some traditional hot latkes (fried potato pancakes) or sufganiot (fried donuts)! (See below, Holiday Foods.)

For the first half hour after the candles are lit (or until half an hour after nightfall, if the menorah was lit before dark) the menorah should not be transferred from its place. If a flame dies out during this time, it is best to relight it. After this time, the menorah can be moved if necessary, and there's no need to rekindle extinguished flames.

Many women refrain from performing household chores during the first half hour that the lights are burning, to honor the brave Jewish women who played a significant role in the Chanukah victory.

Click here to read or listen to the traditional Chanukah hymns:

--------------------- Special Shabbat Rules ---------------------

It is forbidden to light a fire on Shabbat, which extends from sunset on Friday evening until nightfall of Saturday night. Therefore, on Friday afternoon, light the menorah before the Shabbat candles. Shabbat candles are traditionally lit eighteen minutes before sundown. Use additional oil or larger candles for the Friday night Chanukah lights, as they must remain lit until one half hour after nightfall - approximately 1½ hours after the Friday afternoon lighting time.

For the duration of Shabbat, do not relight any flames that have gone out or move the menorah, nor should you prepare the Saturday night Chanukah lights during the Day of Rest.

On Saturday night, light the menorah after Shabbat ends at nightfall. Traditionally, the menorah is kindled immediately after the havdalah service.

Click here for Shabbat start and end times in your location:

--------------------- Chanukah Prayers ---------------------

V'al Hanissim

During the eight days of Chanukah, we add the V'al Hanissim ("And for the miracles...") section in the amidah (daily silent prayers) and in the Grace after Meals. In this section we summarize the miracles of the Maccabee victory, and thank Gd for the "miracles, redemption, mighty deeds, saving acts and wonders" that He wrought for our ancestors.

Click here for the Hebrew text of the V'al Hanissim, as well as an English translation:


Every day of Chanukah, we recite the complete Hallel in the course of the morning prayers. The Hallel is a sequence of praise and gratitude-themed psalms (Psalms 113-118) that is recited on Jewish holidays.

Torah Reading

The Torah is read every day immediately following the Hallel. The Chanukah readings are from the Book of Numbers (7:1-8:4), and discuss the dedication of the Tabernacle, the gifts that the tribal leaders brought in honor of the inauguration, and the command to Aaron to kindle the Tabernacle Menorah daily. On Chanukah, too, we celebrate the dedication (or, to be precise, the re-dedication) of the Temple by the Maccabees after it had been defiled and contaminated by the Greeks. And the command to Aaron to kindle the Menorah is also an allusion to the Chanukah Menorah, a mitzvah that we have thanks to the bravery of Aaron's descendants—the priestly Hasmonean family that led the Maccabeean armies in battle against the Greeks.

Click here for the Chanukah readings along with commentary and contemporary insights:

------------- Extra Charity -------------

On Chanukah, it is customary to increase one's daily disbursement to charity.

------------- Chanukah Gelt -------------

During Chanukah it is customary to give gelt (money) to children, so that we can teach them to give some of it to charity—and just to keep things festive and happy. Some have the admirable custom of gelt-giving each weeknight of Chanukah. In Chabad, it is customary to give gelt every night, but to hand out a heftier sum on the fourth or fifth night.

Click here for some deeper reasons for the Chanukah gelt custom:

------------- Holiday Foods -------------

Oil played a significant role in the Chanukah story—the small jug of oil that miraculously provided fuel for the Temple Menorah for eight days. It is a Jewish tradition to eat foods that reflect the significance of a holiday – such as matzah on Passover, and apple dipped in honey on Rosh Hashanah – and Chanukah is no exception. For at least the last thousand years, Jews have traditionally eaten oily foods on Chanukah.

Among the most popular Chanukah dishes are potato latkes (pancakes) and sufganiot (deep-fried doughnuts).

It is also customary to eat dairy foods on Chanukah, in commemoration of the bravery of Yehudit. Click here to read the story of this brave woman whose daring courage led to a great Maccabee victory:

Click here for traditional Chanukah recipes:

------------- Dreidel Games -------------

Dreidel is a Yiddish word which comes from the word "drei," which means to turn, or spin. A dreidel is a pointed, four-sided top which can be made to spin on its pointed base. Dreidels are normally made of plastic or wood. It is customary to play dreidel games on the holiday of Chanukah.

There is a Hebrew letter embossed or printed on each of the dreidel's four sides. These four letters form the acronym of the phrase: "Nes gadol hayah sham," "A great miracle happened there"; a reference to the Chanukah miracle that transpired in the Land of Israel.

The dreidel, known in Hebrew as a sevivon, dates back to the time of the Greek-Syrian rule over the Holy Land—which set off the Maccabean revolt that culminated in the Chanukah miracle. Learning Torah was outlawed by the enemy, a "crime" punishable by death. The Jewish children resorted to hiding in caves in order to study. If a Greek patrol would approach, the children would pull out their tops and pretend to be playing a game.

By playing dreidel during Chanukah we are reminded of the courage of those brave children.

See our Dreidel Wizard for traditional dreidel game rules:

======================== ** THE CHANUKAH STORY ** ========================

----------------- Under Syrian Rule -----------------

More than 2000 years ago there was a time when the land of Israel was part of the Greek-Syrian Empire, dominated by Syrian rulers of the dynasty of the Seleucids. In 174 BCE, Antiochus IV ascended to the throne. He was a tyrant of a rash and impetuous nature, contemptuous of religion and of the feelings of others. He was called "Epiphanes," meaning "the gods’ beloved." But a historian of his time, Polebius, gave him the epithet Epimanes ("madman"), a title more suitable to the character of this harsh and cruel king.

Desiring to unify his kingdom through the medium of a common religion and culture, Antiochus tried to root out the individualism of the Jews by suppressing all the Jewish Laws. He removed the righteous High Priest, Yochanan, from the Temple in Jerusalem, and in his place installed Yochanan’s brother Joshua, who loved to call himself by the Greek name of Jason. For he was a member of the Hellenist party, and he used his high office to spread more and more of the Greek customs among the priesthood.

Joshua or Jason was later replaced by another man, Menelaus, who had promised the king that he would bring in more money than Jason did. When Yochanan, the former High Priest, protested against the spread of the Hellenists’ influence in the Holy Temple, the ruling High Priest hired murderers to assassinate him.

Antiochus was at that time engaged in a war against Egypt. Meanwhile, in Jerusalem, a rumor spread that a serious accident had befallen Antiochus. Thinking that he was dead, the people rebelled against Menelaus. The treacherous High Priest fled together with his friends.

----------- The Martyrs -----------

Antiochus returned from Egypt. When he heard what had taken place in Jerusalem, he ordered his army to fall upon the Jews. Thousands of Jews were killed. Antiochus then enacted a series of harsh decrees against the Jews. Jewish worship was forbidden; the scrolls of the Law were confiscated and burned. Sabbath rest, circumcision and the dietary laws were prohibited under penalty of death.

Antiochus’s men went from town to town and from village to village to force the inhabitants to worship pagan gods. Only one refuge area remained and that was the hills of Judea with their caves. But even there did the Syrians pursue the faithful Jews, and many thousands of Jews died martyr’s deaths.

---------- Mattityahu ----------

One day the henchmen of Antiochus arrived in the village of Modin where Mattityahu, the old priest, lived. The Syrian officer built an altar in the marketplace of the village and demanded that Mattityahu offer sacrifices to the Greek gods. Mattityahu replied, "I, my sons and my brothers are determined to remain loyal to the covenant which our G-d made with our ancestors!"

Thereupon, a Hellenistic Jew approached the altar to offer a sacrifice. Mattityahu grabbed his sword and killed him, and his sons and friends fell upon the Syrian officers and men. They killed many of them and chased the rest away. They then destroyed the altar.

Mattityahu knew that Antiochus would be enraged when he heard what had happened. He would certainly send an expedition to punish him and his followers. Mattityahu, therefore, left the village of Modin and fled together with his sons and friends to the hills of Judea.

All loyal and courageous Jews joined them. They formed legions and from time to time they left their hiding places to fall upon enemy detachments and outposts, and to destroy the pagan altars that were built by order of Antiochus.

------------- The Maccabees -------------

Before his death, Mattityahu called his sons together and urged them to continue to fight in defense of G d’s Torah. In waging warfare, he said, their leader should be Yehuda the Strong. Yehuda was called "Maccabee," a word composed of the initial letters of the four Hebrew words Mi Komocho Bo’eilim Hashem, "Who is like You, O G-d."

Antiochus sent his General Apolonius to wipe out Yehuda and his followers, the Maccabees. Though greater in number and equipment than their adversaries, the Syrians were defeated by the Maccabees. Antiochus sent out another expedition which also was defeated. He realized that only by sending a powerful army could he hope to defeat Yehuda and his brave fighting men.

An army consisting of more than 40,000 men swept the land under the leadership of two commanders, Nicanor and Gorgiash. When Yehuda and his brothers heard of that, they exclaimed: "Let us fight unto death in defense of our souls and our Temple!" After a series of battles the war was won.

-------------- The Dedication --------------

Now the Maccabees returned to Jerusalem to liberate it. They entered the Temple and cleared it of the idols placed there by the Syrian vandals. Yehuda and his followers built a new altar, which he dedicated on the twenty-fifth of the month of Kislev, in the year 3622 (139 BCE).

Since the golden Menorah had been stolen by the Syrians, the Maccabees now made one of cheaper metal. When they wanted to light it, they found only a small cruse of pure olive oil bearing the seal of the High Priest Yochanan. It was sufficient to light only for one day. By a miracle of G-d, it continued to burn for eight days, till new oil was made available. That miracle proved that G-d had again taken His people under His protection. In memory of this, our sages appointed these eight days for annual thanksgiving and for lighting candles.

For more on the Chanukah Story, please click here:

TOPICS: Judaism
KEYWORDS: chanukah; israel
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In my inbox today, felt like sharing.

Happy Chanukah!

1 posted on 12/03/2007 12:59:42 PM PST by MeanWestTexan
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To: MeanWestTexan

I wonder. Did Jesus celebrate Chanukah as a child?............

2 posted on 12/03/2007 1:02:19 PM PST by Red Badger ( We don't have science, but we do have consensus.......)
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To: MeanWestTexan

Maybe the mods can fix the title.

I read it as “Your Complete Hunk Guide”. I’m a little disappointed. ;-p

3 posted on 12/03/2007 1:04:39 PM PST by Hoodlum91 (I support global warming.)
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To: Red Badger

Given that, by all accounts on both sides of the issue, he was raised an observant Jew, the answer to that is “yes.”

Go eat french fries (and donuts) tomorrow in celebration!

4 posted on 12/03/2007 1:05:00 PM PST by MeanWestTexan (Kol Hakavod Fred Thompson)
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To: MeanWestTexan

Are we now afraid to type the name “GOD”? Why “G-d”?

5 posted on 12/03/2007 1:05:37 PM PST by RC2
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To: MeanWestTexan
He was called "Epiphanes," meaning "the gods’ beloved."

From what I've read, "Epiphanes" means "god manifest" -- i.e. god in the flesh -- which would have been much more of an abomination to faithful Jews than "the gods' beloved" would.

Thanks for sharing!

6 posted on 12/03/2007 1:07:15 PM PST by Constitutionalist Conservative (Global Warming Heretic --
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To: RC2
That is normal practice when you see Jewish writings. It comes from the tradition that the name of God must never be destroyed, and thus, they do not write his name so it cannot be destroyed. It isn’t an insult or fear, it is more a statement of respect.
7 posted on 12/03/2007 1:07:39 PM PST by mnehring ( candidate did not display any moderateness or liberalism...Fred Thompson - Rush Limbaugh)
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To: RC2

Chabad is an Orthodox organization (of which I was formerly an active member).

It is a mitzvah to not destroy or defile the name of God, ergo it is not written out unnecessarily (especially on paper), as that may cause an accidental (or facillitate and intentional) violation of the command.

8 posted on 12/03/2007 1:08:01 PM PST by MeanWestTexan (Kol Hakavod Fred Thompson)
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To: Red Badger

Of course, at the time, it was known as the Feast of Dedication.

9 posted on 12/03/2007 1:08:25 PM PST by mnehring ( candidate did not display any moderateness or liberalism...Fred Thompson - Rush Limbaugh)
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To: MeanWestTexan
Go eat french fries (and donuts) tomorrow in celebration!

Wouldn't that be hash browns and donuts?.....

10 posted on 12/03/2007 1:12:51 PM PST by Red Badger ( We don't have science, but we do have consensus.......)
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To: Red Badger

Anything fried in oil will work, really.

We always had fried chicken or fried steaks, but we also happened to be Texans, as well as Jewish.

11 posted on 12/03/2007 1:15:12 PM PST by MeanWestTexan (Kol Hakavod Fred Thompson)
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To: MeanWestTexan

We are lighting a menorah during Chanukah, too. We are not Jewish but my husband’s step-mother is and we would like our children to honor and respect her religious beliefs in addition to our Catholic beliefs. She decorates a Christmas tree with Jewish ornaments in addition to the traditional trimmings AND gives out the most fantastic Christmas gifts. It’s really a fun time of year for all of us. As we say on that side of the family, Merry Christmakkuh!!!

12 posted on 12/03/2007 1:16:22 PM PST by LibertyGrrrl (
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To: Hoodlum91

Hi, honey.

Why were you looking for a complete hunk guide?

13 posted on 12/03/2007 1:16:24 PM PST by RockinRight (Huck supporters OPEN YOUR EYES. Socialism isn't compatible with social conservatism in the long run.)
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To: MeanWestTexan
...but we also happened to be Texans, as well as Jewish.

Kinky Friedman? IZZAT YOU?...............

14 posted on 12/03/2007 1:18:01 PM PST by Red Badger ( We don't have science, but we do have consensus.......)
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To: MeanWestTexan
Hanukkah sameach from Judah the Teddy Bear (I hope I'm not sparking any riots!).
15 posted on 12/03/2007 1:19:36 PM PST by Cecily
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To: RockinRight; Hoodlum91
Why were you looking for a complete hunk guide?

Let me help out here.

Just because your not hungry, doesn't mean you can't read the menu.

I hope that keeps someone out of the dog house. ;P

16 posted on 12/03/2007 1:22:44 PM PST by Doomonyou (Let them eat lead.)
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To: Red Badger

Unless Austin moved to West Texas, I think not.

17 posted on 12/03/2007 1:25:19 PM PST by MeanWestTexan (Kol Hakavod Fred Thompson)
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To: MeanWestTexan

LOL!!!.........Hell, I don’t think Austin is even in Texas most of the time!.............

18 posted on 12/03/2007 1:26:51 PM PST by Red Badger ( We don't have science, but we do have consensus.......)
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To: Red Badger
A detailed reading of the Holy Scriptures(Luke 1) leads one to
understand that Yah'shua was conceived on Chanukah
(where the Light of the World entered our time and space)
and was born on Sukkot, where He tabernacled among us.
shalom b'Shem Yah'shua

19 posted on 12/03/2007 1:32:12 PM PST by Uri’el-2012 (you shall know that I, YHvH, your Savior, and your Redeemer, am the Elohim of Ya'aqob. Isaiah 60:16)
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To: Hoodlum91

I’m glad I’m not the only one who read it wrong.

20 posted on 12/03/2007 1:35:10 PM PST by najida (Will you dance at my birthday party?)
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