TalmuDigest

For the week ending 30 April 2022 / 29 Nissan 5782

Acharei Mos & Kedoshim: The Curious Case of the Missing Haftarah 5782/2022

by Rabbi Yehuda Spitz
Library Library Library

Although Eretz Yisrael is currently a week ahead of the rest of the world in its parashah readings, nonetheless, this past Shabbos, Acharei Mos in Chutz La’aretz and Kedoshim in Eretz Yisrael, shared the same haftarah – ‘Machar Chodesh,’ as Sunday (and Monday as well) was Rosh Chodesh Iyar. However, this Shabbos, for those of us in Chutz La’aretz,[1] something atypical will occur during davening. When it comes time for the haftarah, chances are that the actual reading will not be the previously scheduled haftarah listed in your Chumash, that of Kedoshim, but rather the haftarah listed for the previous parashah, Acharei Mos. In fact, in previous years, as the reading commenced in the shul where I was davening, so did a concurrent dispute with the gabbai, with mispalleleim arguing that the Ba’al Koreh was erroneously reading the wrong haftarah!

But, to properly understand why the ‘wrong haftarah’ was (it turns out, quite properly) read, some background is needed.

Haftarah History

According to the Abudraham and Tosafos Yom Tov, the haftaros were established when the wicked Antiochus IV (infamous from the Chanukah miracle) outlawed public reading of the Torah. The Chachamim of the time therefore established the custom of reading a topic from the Nevi’im similar to what was supposed to be read from the Torah.[2] Even after the decree was nullified, and prior to the Gemara’s printing, this became minhag Yisrael.

Most haftaros share some similarity with at least one concept presented in the Torah reading. The Gemara Megillah (29b-31a) discusses the proper haftarah readings for the various holidays throughout the year, which are rather related to the holiday and generally trump a weekly haftarah.

Ground Rule Double

An interesting halacha that concerns us is which haftarah is read when Acharei Mos – Kedoshim is a double parashah, which also has ramifications for this year when they are read separately. Although the Abudraham cites two disparate minhagim with no actual ruling: one to read the first parashah’s haftarah and ‘the Rambam’s minhag’ to read the second, nevertheless most other Rishonim, including the Sefer Haminhagim, Mordechai, Ramban, Hagahos Maimoniyos, Shibolei Haleket, and Tur, rule to read the second parashah’s haftarah.[3]

This is also codified as the proper ruling by both the Shulchan Aruch and Rema, and as far as this author knows this was accepted by all of Klal Yisrael.[4] The main reason to do so is to enable reading a haftarah similar to what was just concluded in the Torah leining, which translates to the second parashah that was just finished and not the first parashah. So we see that generally speaking, whenever there is a double parashah, the haftarah of the second parashah is read, as that is the Torah reading that we just concluded.

Acharei Exclusion

Yet, when it comes to the parshiyos of Acharei Mos and Kedoshim, it seems that it is not so simple. Although the Shulchan Aruch does not mention any difference between these and other double parshiyos, the Rema, the great codifier of Ashkenazic psak, however, citing precedent from theSefer Haminhagim and the Mordechai, rules that the haftarah of the first parashah, Acharei Mos, is the proper one to read.

The reason for the uncharacteristic change is that the haftarah of Parshas Kedoshim, ‘Hasishpot’, from sefer Yechezkel, includes what is known as ‘Toavas Yerushalayim,’ referring to a revealing prophecy of the woeful spiritual state and the terrible happenings that will occur to the inhabitants of Eretz Yisrael for not following the word of G-d. The Gemara in Megillah (25b) relates a story of Rabbi Eliezer and one who read such a haftarah, who was subsequently found to have his own family’s indiscretions exposed. Ultimately though, the Gemara concludes that that haftarah can indeed be read, and even translated.[5]

Hazardous Haftarah?

Despite that, all the same, it seems that we are being taught that whenever possible, we should try to avoid having to read this condemning passage as the haftarah. Additionally, the content of Acharei Mos’s haftarah, ‘Halo K’Bnei Kushiyim’ (from Amos in Trei Asar Ch. 9) has similar content to Parshas Kedoshim as well. Therefore, the Rema rules that when the Torah reading is the double parshiyos of Acharei Mos and Kedoshim, and as opposed to every other double parashah, the haftarah of Acharei Mos is read instead of Kedoshim’s.

Although the Levush vigorously argued against switching the haftaros, positing that it is a printing mistake in the earlier authorities to suggest such a switch,[6] nevertheless, the Rema’s rule is followed by virtually all later poskim and Ashkenazic Kehillos.[7]

However, it must be noted that this switch was not accepted by Sefardic authorities and when Acharei Mos and Kedoshim are combined, they do indeed read Kedoshim’s haftarah, ‘Hasishpot.[8]

This Year’s Stats

All of this may be fine for most years when it is a double Parashah. But, as mentioned previously, this year (5782/2022), Acharei Mos and Kedoshim are read separately. Moreover, to further complicate matters, due to a calenderical quirk, this year, these parshiyos are actually read on different weeks in Chutz La’retz than they are read in Eretz Yisrael. Ergo, with all of these divergent factors, the real question becomes how far will Ashkenazim go to avoid saying Kedoshim’s haftarah when Acharei Mos and Kedoshim are not combined? And, how will this play out in different parts of the world?

This is where it gets interesting. The Gemara (Megillah 31a) states that whenever Rosh Chodesh falls out on Shabbos, a special haftarah is read: ‘Hashamayim Kisi,’ as it mentions both the inyanim of Shabbos and Rosh Chodesh.[9] If Rosh Chodesh falls out on Sunday, then on the preceding Shabbos, the haftarah of ‘Machar Chodesh’ is read, as it mentions the following day being Rosh Chodesh. This is the codified halacha as well, barring specific exceptions.[10]

Rav Akiva Eiger, adding a wrinkle, writes that when Parshas Acharei Mos falls out on Erev Rosh Chodesh and its haftarah gets pushed off for ‘Machar Chodesh,’ then the proper haftarah for Parshas Kedoshim the next week is… Acharei Mos’s haftarah, and not Kedoshim’s![11] Rav Eiger’s reasoning is since we find precedent by a double parashah that we actively try not to read Kedoshim’s haftarah due to its explicit content, the same should apply for any other time Acharei Mos’s haftarah was not read, for whatever reason - that it should trump and therefore replace (and displace) Kedoshim’s haftarah!

Indeed, and although not the common custom, there is even an old Yerushalmi minhag not to ever read the haftarah of Kedoshim; and even when the Parshiyos are separate, Acharei Mos’s haftarah is read two weeks in a row.[12] However, this is not the common minhag, and actually Kedoshim’s haftarah, “Hisishpot,” the actual rarest haftarah read for most of Ashkenazic Jewry, is slated to be read by the majority of Klal Yisrael in only two more years – 5784/2024 – the first time since 5757/1997![13]

‘Halo’ the Hallowed Haftarah of Kedoshim

Although not universally accepted,[14] Rav Akiva Eiger’s rule is cited as the halacha by the Mishnah Berurah, and the proper Ashkenazic minhag by the Kaf Hachaim.[15] The Chazon Ish, as well as Rav Moshe Feinstein, and Rav Chaim Kanievsky,[16] all ruled this way as well. That is why in years when Acharei Mos was Shabbos Hagadol and its usual haftarah was not read, but rather replaced by the special haftarah for Shabbos Hagadol, many shuls read Acharei Mos’s haftarah on Parshas Kedoshim, instead of Kedoshim’s usual one.

In fact, that is how both Rav Yosef Eliyahu Henkin’s authoritative Ezras Torah Luach, as well as Rav Yechiel Michel Tukachinsky’s essential Luach Eretz Yisrael rule as the proper minhag.[17] And this year, in Chutz La’aretz, with Parshas Acharei Mos’s haftarah being ‘Machar Chodesh,’ (due to Rosh Chodesh Iyar being Sunday and Monday), according to the vast majority of Ashkenazic authorities, Parshas Kedoshim’s haftarah is… Acharei Mos’s: ‘Halo K’Bnei Kushiyim.’[18] Meaning, practically speaking, in many shuls around the world, Kedoshim’s haftarah will not be found following Parshas Kedoshim, but rather preceding it. Of course, the Sefardic minhag is still to read ‘Hasishpot.

Eretz Yisrael a Week Ahead

I mentioned several times previously that this is what will occur for those of us in Chutz La’aretz. But what about those of us in Eretz Yisrael? How does this haftarah switch play out? Interestingly, this issue does not come up at all this year for Bnei Eretz Yisrael. This is because this year (5782/2022) the eighth day of Pesach (Yom Tov Sheini), observed only outside Eretz Yisrael, fell out on a Shabbos. On this Shabbos/Yom Tov the communities of the Diaspora leined the Yom Tov reading of ‘Aser Te’aser’ (Devarim, Parshas Re’eh, Ch. 14:22), whereas in Eretz Yisrael, Parshas Acharei Mos, the next parashah in the cycle, as Pesach has already just ended, was leined. Therefore, Acharei Mos’s regularly scheduled haftarah, ‘Halo K’Bnei Kushiyim,’ was read in Eretz Yisrael then, in its appropriate time.

This past Shabbos, Parshas Kedoshim(in Israel; which was Parashas Acharei Mos in Chutz La’aretz), was Erev Rosh Chodesh and therefore its haftarah for everyone worldwide was rightly ‘Machar Chodesh,’ and thus avoided the issues enumerated in this article entirely. So it comes out that according to the prevailing Ashkenazic minhag, the haftarah leined in Eretz Yisrael on Isru Chag Pesach for Parashas Acharei Mos is the same haftarah that will be leined everywhere else in the world on the 6th of Iyar - two weeks later - for Parashas Kedoshim. In other words, this year in Chutz La’aretz what is leined for the haftarah of Acharei Mos is what Eretz Yisrael leins for Kedoshim and what is leined for the haftarah of Kedoshim in Chutz La’aretz what Eretz Yisrael leins for Acharei Mos.

Fascinatingly, this year Eretz Yisrael will stay a week ahead of the rest of the world, and will not actually synchronize until Mattos/Maasei, around Rosh Chodosh Av - more than three months hence![19] The last several times such a large Parashah discrepancy occurred were back in 1995, 2016, and 2019. The next time will be in 21 years from now in 2043/5803.[20] An elucidation on the subject will IY”H be featured in an upcoming article.

Back to haftaros, to sum up the matter, the next time you are trying to figure out what happened to the missing haftarah of Kedoshim, be aware - you may have to turn back to Acharei!

The author wishes to thank R’ Shloime Lerner for raising awareness of this unique issue, and for providing several invaluable Mareh Mekomos. Thanks are also due to R’ Chezky Adler for serving as the impetus for this author’s interest and research in this topic.

This article was written L’Refuah Sheleimah for my former neighbor Rav Binyomin Povarsky - Refael Binyomin ben Leah, L’Iluy Nishmas Maran Sar HaTorah Harav Shmaryahu Yosef Chaim ben Harav Yaakov Yisrael zt”l (Kanievsky), this author’s beloved grandmother, Chana Rus (Spitz) bas Rav Yissachar Dov a”h and uncle Yeruchem ben Rav Yisroel Mendel (Kaplan) zt”l, and l’zechus Shira Yaffa bas Rochel Miriam v’chol yotzei chalatzeha for a yeshua sheleimah teikif u’miyad!

For any questions, comments or for the full Mareh Mekomos/sources, please email the author: yspitz@ohr.edu.

Rabbi Yehuda Spitz serves as the Sho’el U’Meishiv and Rosh Chabura of the Ohr Lagolah Halacha Kollel at Yeshivas Ohr Somayach in Yerushalayim.

Rabbi Spitz’s recent English halacha sefer, “Insights Into Halacha - Food: A Halachic Analysis,” (Mosaica/Feldheim) has more than 500 pages and features over 30 comprehensive chapters, discussing a myriad of halachic issues relating to food. It is now available online and in bookstores everywhere.



[1] The proper reading for those of us in Eretz Yisrael will be discussed later on in the article.

[2]As per the Tosafos Yom Tov (Megillah, Perek Bnei Ha’Ir, Mishnah 4 s.v. l’chisidran), citing the Sefer HaTishbi (Shoresh Petter). A similar background is given by the Abudraham (Seder Parshiyos V’Haftaros) and the Bach (Orach Chaim 284; although he does not cite which actual wicked king was the one who was gozer shmad shelo likros b’Torah). Alternately, the Aruch Hashulchan (Orach Chaim 135: 2) posits that as the Mishnah in Megillah (31a) lists reading the haftarah along with special Torah readings that Moshe Rabbeinu established, it is most likely that the Anshei Knesses HaGedolah established their reading. However, there are other reasons given, dating far earlier – back to the times of the Gaonim (Teshuvos HaGaonim 55; see also Shibbolei Haleket 44). In the words of Rav Yirmiyohu Kaganoff in a recent fascinating article titled ‘An Unusual Haftara,’ “Some early sources report that, in ancient times, a haftarah was recited towards the end of Shacharis everyday of the year. At the point of davening when we recite Uva Letziyon, they would take out a sefer Navi and read about ten verses together with their Aramaic translation, the common Jewish parlance at the time. Then, they recited the two main pesukim of kedushah, Kadosh Kadosh Kadosh… and Boruch Kevod… together with their Aramaic translations. In those days, all men used to study Torah for several hours after davening, before occupying themselves with their daily livelihoods. The Navi was recited to guarantee that people fulfilled the daily requirement to study some Biblical part of the Torah, in addition to the daily requirement of studying both Mishnah and Gemara. This daily practice of incorporating some “haftarah” reading ended when people needed to spend more time earning a living. To ensure that this practice of studying some Tanach daily at the end of davening would not be forgotten, they still recited the verses of Kedusha, a practice mentioned in the Gemara(Sotah 49a). Around the recital of these two verses developed the prayer we say daily that begins with the pasuk “Uva Letzion.”Although the daily “haftarah”ceased at this time, on Shabbos and Yom Tov, when people do not work, the haftarah readings continued. As a result, there is no need to mention Uva Letzion immediately after Kriyas HaTorah on Shabbos and Yom Tov, since that is when we recite the haftarah. For this reason, Uva Letzion is postponed until Mincha. It is noteworthy that although the second reason is better known and is quoted frequently by halachic commentaries (from the Bach, onwards), the first reason is found in much earlier sources. While the earliest source mentioning the second approach was the Abudraham, who lived in the early fourteenth century, the first source is found in writings of the Gaonim, well over a thousand years ago.” Rav Kaganoff continues that “I suspect that both historical reasons are accurate: Initially, the haftarah was instituted when the Jews were banned from reading the Torah in public; they instituted reading the haftaros as a reminder of the mitzvah of public Torah reading. After that decree was rescinded and the mitzvah of Kriyas HaTorah was reinstituted, Jews continued the practice of reading the Neviim and even extended it as a daily practice to encourage people to study the Written Torah every day. When this daily practice infringed on people’s ability to earn a living, they limited it to non-workdays.”

[3] Abudraham (Seder Parshiyos V’Haftaros), Sefer Haminhagim (Minhag Shel Shabbos), Mordechai (end Maseches Megilla h, 831; and not like the Ravyah citing the Ri Halevi), Ramban (Seder Hatefillos Kol Hashana, end par. Hamaftir B’Navi; ‘v’zu haminhag b’rov hamekomos’), Hagahos Maimoniyos (Hilchos Tefillah, Ch. 13: 20), Shibolei Haleket (80), and Tur (Orach Chaim 428).

[4] Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 284: 7) and Rema (Orach Chaim 428: 8). See also Chayei Adam (vol. 2, 118: 17), Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (79: 6), Aruch Hashulchan (Orach Chaim 428: 7), Kaf Hachaim (ad loc. 51),and Yalkut Yosef (Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 484: 6).

[5] On the other hand, in Maseches Sofrim (Ch. 9:11) this story is cited slightly differently, and ends off with Rabbi Eliezer’s shittah, implying that his stringent view is the final word on the matter, and not as the Gemara ultimately concludes.

[6] Levush (Orach Chaim 428: 8 and 493 s.v. l’Parshas Kedoshim; at length). He adds that that haftarah, although discussing ‘To’avas Yerushalayim’ is not the actual one discussed in the Gemara that Rabbi Eliezer held should not be read (which is found in Yechezkel Ch. 16). Additionally, ‘Hasishpot’ is mentioned by several early authorities as being the proper haftarah for several other parshiyos (some Sefardim and Yemenites in fact read it for Parshas Shemos). Therefore, he maintains, how can we now say that it should not be read? Moreover, if the reason normally to read the second parashah’s haftarah is to read a haftarah similar to what was just read, why should that change just because of a specific haftarah’s content? He concludes that several other important authorities, including the Tikkun Yissachar (Minhagos Haftaros pg. 84), hold not to switch and when Acharei Mos and Kedoshim are combined, Kedoshim’s haftarah should still be read.

[7] Including the Agudah (cited by the Magen Avrohom, Orach Chaim 428: 10), Bach (ad loc. s.v. u’mah shekasav), Matteh Moshe (424), Magen Avrohom (ibid.), Elyah Rabbah (493: 17; and Elyah Zuta 16 - citing it as the minhag of Prague, following his ‘Zikno HaGaon z”l’), Tosafos Yom Tov (Malbushei Yom Tov ad loc. 3; citing it as the minhag of the Maharash), Ba’er Heitiv (Orach Chaim 428: 9), Chayei Adam (vol. 2, 118: 17), Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (79: 6), Aruch Hashulchan (Orach Chaim 428: 7), Mishnah Berurah (428, 26), and Rav Chaim Kanievsky’s Shoneh Halachos (ad loc. 22). The Kaf Hachaim (ad loc. 52) cites this as the prevalent Ashkenazic minhag.

[8] See Kaf Hachaim (Orach Chaim 428: 52) who says that Sefardic minhag is to follow the Kenesses Hagedolah (ad loc.) and Tikkun Yissachar (ibid.), as well as the mashma’os of the Shulchan Aruch, who makes no mention of a switch, that when Acharei Mos and Kedoshim are combined, Sefardim indeed read ‘Hasishpot,’ the haftarah of Kedoshim. See also Yalkut Yosef (ibid.) and Rav Mordechai Eliyahu’s Darchei Halacha glosses to the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (79: 3) who state this as well. Interestingly, there are actually two different haftaros from Yechezkel known as ‘Hasishpot,’ (Ch. 20 and Ch. 22) both discussing ‘Toavas Yerushalayim.’ If Acharei Mos and Kedoshim are combined, Sefardim generally read ‘Hasishpot’ from Yechezkel Ch. 20, which is also Kedoshim’s regular haftarah for Sefardim. The remarkably similar ‘Hasishpot’ that Ashkenazim would read for a stand alone Parshas Kedoshim is from Yechezkel Ch. 22, which Sefardim would have generally already read the previous week, for a stand alone Parshas Acharei Mos (and not ‘Halo K’Bnei Kushiyim’ that Ashkenazim would have read).

[9] See also Shu”t Noda B’Yehuda (Tinyana,Orach Chaim 11).

[10] Megillah (31a-b); see also Shulchan Aruch and commentaries to Orach Chaim (425:2). This was discussed at length in a previous article titled ‘Of Haftaros and Havdalah: Shabbos Rosh Chodesh Av 5781.’

[11] Hagahos Rabbi Akiva Eiger (Orach Chaim 428, on Magen Avrohom 10).

[12] See Rav Yisrael Yaakov Fischer’s Shu”t Even Yisrael (vol. 8: 38) and Halichos Even Yisrael (pg. 217: 24; also citing this as the shittah of Rav Zelig Reuven Bengis). He even mentions years and places where this was actually nahug(mainly Old Yishuv-Yerushalmi/Perushim shuls). There are tales of how when this would occur, Rav Fischer would lock up the Neviim of Yechezkel in his shul, the Zichron Moshe Shteiblach (“Minyan Factory”) – to prevent “Hasishpot” from being leined. Thanks are due to Nehemiah Klein for pointing this out.

[13] According to Rabbi Dovid Heber of the Star-K and author of Shaarei Zemanim, for most Ashkenazic Kehillos, the haftarah of ‘Hasishpot’ is practically read only 14 times in the Tur’s (Orach Chaim end 428) 247 year cycle, making it the rarest of all haftaros. In fact, after the upcoming leining in 5784/2024, the next time this opportunity is scheduled to occur is 5801/2041. In contrast, and as mentioned previously, for many Sefardim, ‘Hasishpot’ is read three times annually (Parshas Shemos, Acharei Mos, and Kedoshim; well, one of the two ‘Hasishpot’s is read twice and the other once). In Rabbi Heber’s recent excellent The Intriguing World of Jewish Time (Ch. 11, pg. 177), he states that following the prevalent minhag Ashkenaz “the most infrequently leined haftarah is that of Kedoshim, “Hasishpot.” It is only leined in a leap year that begins on a Shabbos and in which Pesach begins on a Tuesday. This only occurs on average once every seventeen years. The longest possible span between years that this haftarah is leined is forty-four; it was leined in 5388/1628 and again in 5432/1672.” On the other hand, shuls that do not lein V’Arvah for Shabbos Hagadol (most commonly shuls of Germanic origin; this was discussed in a previous article here: https://ohr.edu/9301#_edn1) will end up leiningHasishpot’ more often.

[14] In fact, and aside for the Levush and those who follow him, the Sefer Haminhagim (ibid.), who is the source of the halacha of switching haftaros for Acharei Mos and Kedoshim when combined, explicitly writes that when Acharei Mos’s haftarah is not read due to Rosh Chodesh etc., on the next week, Kedoshim’s haftarah should be read and not Acharei Mos’s haftarah. This author has since heard that the Belzer minhag is to follow the Sefer Haminhagim on this and not Rav Akiva Eiger. However, a reading of the Luach Belz - Dvar Yom B’Yomo (5782, Shabbos Emor/Chu”l Shabbos Kedoshim) proves otherwise, citing ‘Halo K’Bnei Kushiyim’ as the proper haftarah.

[15] Mishnah Berurah (ibid.) and Kaf Hachaim (ibid.). It is also cited lemaaseh by several other sefarim including the Shulchan Hakeriah (28), Leket Kemach Hachodosh (vol. 3, Tomer Devorah 85), Shu”t Beis Yisrael (Taussig; vol. 8: pg. 206), and Zer HaTorah (Ch. 10: 133, hagahah 176). See also the excellent maamar by Rabbi Moshe Eliezer Blum in Kovetz Ohr Yisroel (vol. 52: Sivan 5768) citing several proofs that the ikar halacha indeed follows Rav Akiva Eiger.

[16] See Shoneh Halachos (ad loc. 22); Rav Kanievsky adds that this was also the Chazon Ish’s psak. See also Shu”t Igros Moshe (Orach Chaim vol. 1: 36), where although dealing with what to do if one already made a brachah on the wrong haftarah for Parshas Acharei Mos/Kedoshim [if reading from a Navi, Rav Moshe rules that ‘Hasishpot’ should be read instead of making a new brachah; however if from a Chumash then one should just read Acharei’s haftarah], Rav Moshe mentions that generally speaking, the haftarah for Kedoshim is rarely read, and cites as a davar pashut that anytime there is a conflict of haftaros, Acharei Mos’s haftarah is read in its stead.

[17] Luach Ezras Torah (5782, Parshas Kedoshim) and Luach Eretz Yisrael (5782, Minhagei Hashana, Nisan, s.v. Kedoshim).

[18] See for example, Rav Yosef Eliyahu Henkin’s Luach Ezras Torah 5782 (Iyar, Parshas Kedoshim), Rabbi Arthur Spier’s The Comprehensive Hebrew Calendar 5660-5860/1900-2100 (5782, Parshas Kedoshim), the Itim L’vinah Luach 5782 (Nissan-Iyar 5782), and the Luach Belz - Dvar Yom B’Yomo (5782, Shabbos Emor/Chu”l Shabbos Kedoshim).

[19] As pointed out by R’ Yisroel Strauss, the great Eretz Yisrael/Chutz La’aretz Parashah divide notwithstanding, there are three times over this period when the same haftarah will be read by all worldwide: This upcoming Shabbos – 29 Nissan (Machar Chodesh), 24 Tammuz (1st week of Bein Hametzarim), and 2 Av (2nd week of Bein Hametzarim).

[20] Thanks are due to R’ Yosef Yehuda Weber, author of Understanding the Jewish Calendar, for pointing this out. This monumental split, from Pesach to Matos-Masei, can only occur in a leap year when the last day of Pesach in Chutz La’aretz is on Shabbos. In his words, “this can only occur in two types of leap years. 1. When Rosh Hashana is on Monday and the year has 385 days [Marcheshvan and Kislev both have 30 days]. 2. When Rosh Hashana is on Tuesday and the year [always] has 384 days.”

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