Shabbat (/ʃəˈbɑːt/; Hebrew: שַׁבָּת [ʃa'bat], "rest"
or "cessation") or Shabbos (['ʃa.bəs], Yiddish: שבת) or the
Sabbath is Judaism's day of rest and seventh day of the week, on which
religious Jews, Samaritans and certain Christians (such as Seventh-day
Adventists and Seventh Day Baptists) remember the Biblical creation of
the heavens and the earth in six days and the Exodus of the Hebrews,
and look forward to a future Messianic Age.
Shabbat observance entails
refraining from work activities, often with great rigor, and engaging
in restful activities to honor the day. Judaism's traditional position
is that unbroken seventh-day
Shabbat originated among the Jewish
people, as their first and most sacred institution, though some
suggest other origins. Variations upon
Shabbat are widespread in
Judaism and, with adaptations, throughout the Abrahamic and many other
According to halakha (Jewish religious law),
Shabbat is observed from
a few minutes before sunset on
Friday evening until the appearance of
three stars in the sky on Saturday night.
Shabbat is ushered in by
lighting candles and reciting a blessing. Traditionally, three festive
meals are eaten: in the evening, in the early afternoon, and late in
the afternoon. The evening meal typically begins with a blessing
called kiddush and another blessing recited over two loaves of
Shabbat is closed the following evening with a havdalah
Shabbat is a festive day when
Jews exercise their freedom
from the regular labors of everyday life. It offers an opportunity to
contemplate the spiritual aspects of life and to spend time with
1.2 Biblical sources
1.4 Status as a holy day
2.1 Welcoming Sabbath
2.2 Other rituals
2.3 Bidding farewell
3 Prohibited activities
3.1 Orthodox and Conservative
3.2 Reform and Reconstructionist
4 Encouraged activities
7 See also
9 External links
The word "Shabbat" derives from the Hebrew verb shavat (Hebrew:
שָׁבַת). Although frequently translated as "rest" (noun or
verb), another accurate translation of these words is "ceasing [from
work]", as resting is not necessarily denoted. The related modern
Hebrew word shevita (labor strike), has the same implication of active
rather than passive abstinence from work. The notion of active
cessation from labor is also regarded as more consistent with an
omnipotent God's activity on the seventh day of Creation according to
Main article: Biblical Sabbath
Sabbath is given special status as a holy day at the very beginning of
Torah in Genesis 2:1–3. It is first commanded after the Exodus
from Egypt, in Exodus 16:26 (relating to the cessation of manna) and
in Exodus 16:29 (relating to the distance one may travel by foot on
the Sabbath), as also in Exodus 20:8–11 (as the fourth of the Ten
Sabbath is commanded and commended many more times in
Torah and Tanakh; double the normal number of animal sacrifices
are to be offered on the day.
Sabbath is also described by the
prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Amos, and Nehemiah.
A silver matchbox holder for
Shabbat from the Republic of Macedonia
The longstanding traditional Jewish position is that unbroken
Shabbat originated among the Jewish people, as their first
and most sacred institution. The origins of
Shabbat and a seven-day
week are not clear to scholars; the Mosaic tradition claims an origin
from the Biblical creation.
Shabbat did not originate with the Egyptians, to whom it
was unknown; and other origin theories based on the day of Saturn,
or on the planets generally, have also been abandoned.
The first non-Biblical reference to
Sabbath is in an ostracon found in
excavations at Mesad Hashavyahu, which is dated 630 BCE.
Sabbath observance has been suggested in the designation
of the seventh, fourteenth, nineteenth, twenty-first and twenty-eight
days of a lunar month in an Assyrian religious calendar as a 'holy
day', also called ‘evil days’ (meaning "unsuitable" for prohibited
activities). The prohibitions on these days, spaced seven days apart,
include abstaining from chariot riding, and the avoidance of eating
meat by the King. On these days officials were prohibited from various
activities and common men were forbidden to "make a wish", and at
least the 28th was known as a "rest-day". The Universal Jewish
Encyclopedia advanced a theory of Assyriologists like Friedrich
Delitzsch (and of Marcello Craveri) that
arose from the lunar cycle in the Babylonian calendar
containing four weeks ending in Sabbath, plus one or two additional
unreckoned days per month. The difficulties of this theory include
reconciling the differences between an unbroken week and a lunar week,
and explaining the absence of texts naming the lunar week as Sabbath
in any language.
Status as a holy day
A challah cover with Hebrew inscription
Tanakh and siddur describe
Shabbat as having three purposes:
To commemorate God's creation of the universe, on the seventh day of
which God rested from (or ceased) his work;
To commemorate the Israelites' redemption from slavery in ancient
As a "taste" of
Olam Haba (the Messianic Age).
Shabbat the status of a joyous holy day. In many ways,
Jewish law gives
Shabbat the status of being the most important holy
day in the Jewish calendar:
It is the first holy day mentioned in the Bible, and God was the first
to observe it with the cessation of Creation (Genesis 2:1–3).
Jewish liturgy treats
Shabbat as a "bride" and "queen" (see
Torah is read during the
Torah reading which is part of the
Shabbat morning services, with a longer reading than during the week.
Torah is read over a yearly cycle of 54 parashioth, one for each
Shabbat (sometimes they are doubled). On Shabbat, the reading is
divided into seven sections, more than on any other holy day,
including Yom Kippur. Then, the
Haftarah reading from the Hebrew
prophets is read.
A tradition states that the
Jewish Messiah will come if every Jew
properly observes two consecutive Shabbatoth.
The punishment in ancient times for desecrating
Shabbat (stoning) is
the most severe punishment in Jewish law.
Shabbat dinner" redirects here. For the film, see
Reciting blessing over
Shabbat (kavod Shabbat) on Preparation Day (Friday) includes
bathing, having a haircut and cleaning and beautifying the home (with
flowers, for example). According to Jewish law,
Shabbat starts a few
minutes before sunset. Candles are lit at this time. It is customary
in many communities to light the candles 18 minutes before sundown
(tosefet Shabbat, though sometimes 36 minutes), and most printed
Jewish calendars adhere to this custom. The Kabbalat
is a prayer service welcoming the arrival of Shabbat. Before Friday
night dinner, it is customary to sing two songs, one "greeting" two
Shabbat angels into the house and the other praising the woman of
the house for all the work she has done over the past week. After
blessings over the wine and challah, a festive meal is served. Singing
is traditional at
Sabbath meals. In modern times, many composers
have written sacred music for use during the Kabbalat Shabbat
observance, including Robert Strassburg.
According to rabbinic literature, God via the
observe (refrain from forbidden activity) and remember (with words,
thoughts, and actions) Shabbat, and these two actions are symbolized
by the customary two
Shabbat candles. Candles are lit usually by the
woman of the house (or else by a man who lives alone). Some families
light more candles, sometimes in accordance with the number of
"Oyneg Shabes" and "Oneg Shabbat" redirect here. For the collection of
documents from the Warsaw Ghetto collected and preserved by the group
known by the code name Oyneg Shabes, see Ringelblum Archive.
Shabbat is a day of celebration as well as prayer. It is customary to
eat three festive meals: Dinner on
Shabbat eve (
Friday night), lunch
Shabbat day (Saturday), and a third meal (a Seudah Shlishit) in the
late afternoon (Saturday). It is also customary to wear nice clothing
(different from during the week) on
Shabbat to honor the day.
Jews attend synagogue services on
Shabbat even if they do not do
so during the week. Services are held on
Shabbat eve (
Shabbat morning (Saturday morning), and late
With the exception of Yom Kippur, which is referred to in the Torah
(Lev 23:32) as "
Shabbat of Shabbatoth", days of public fasting are
postponed or advanced if they coincide with Shabbat. Mourners sitting
shivah (week of mourning subsequent to the death of a spouse or
first-degree relative) outwardly conduct themselves normally for the
duration of the day and are forbidden to display public signs of
Shabbat laws are restrictive, the fourth of the Ten
Commandments in Exodus is taken by the
Maimonides to allude
to the positive commandments of Shabbat. These include:
Shabbat (kavod Shabbat): on Shabbat, wearing festive clothing
and refraining from unpleasant conversation. It is customary to avoid
talk about money or business matters on Shabbat.
Recitation of kiddush over a cup of wine at the beginning of Shabbat
meals, or at a reception after the conclusion of morning prayers (see
the list of Jewish prayers and blessings).
Two homemade whole-wheat challahs covered by traditional embroidered
Shabbat challah cover
Eating three festive meals. Meals begin with a blessing over two
loaves of bread (lechem mishneh, "double bread"), usually of braided
challah, which is symbolic of the double portion of manna that fell
for the Jewish people on the day before
Sabbath during their 40 years
in the desert after the Exodus from Egypt. It is customary to serve
meat or fish, and sometimes both, for
Shabbat evening and morning
Seudah Shlishit (literally, "third meal"), generally a light
meal that may be pareve or dairy, is eaten late
Shabbat (oneg Shabbat): Engaging in pleasurable activities
such as eating, singing, spending time with the family and marital
Recitation of havdalah.
Main article: Havdalah
Observing the closing havdalah ritual in 14th-century Spain
Havdalah (Hebrew: הַבְדָּלָה, "separation") is a Jewish
religious ceremony that marks the symbolic end of Shabbat, and ushers
in the new week. At the conclusion of
Shabbat at nightfall, after the
appearance of three stars in the sky, the havdalah blessings are
recited over a cup of wine, and with the use of fragrant spices and a
candle, usually braided. Some communities delay havdalah later into
the night in order to prolong Shabbat. There are different customs
regarding how much time one should wait after the stars have surfaced
until the sabbath technically ends. Some people hold by 72 minutes
later and other hold longer and shorter than that.
Main article: Activities prohibited on Shabbat
Jewish law (halakha) prohibits doing any form of melakhah
(מְלָאכָה, plural melakhoth) on Shabbat, unless an urgent
human or medical need is life-threatening. Though melakhah is commonly
translated as "work" in English, a better definition is "deliberate
activity" or "skill and craftmanship". There are 39 categories of
prohibited activities (melakhoth) listed in
Mishnah Tractate Shabbat
The term shomer
Shabbat is used for a person (or organization) who
Shabbat laws consistently. The shomer
Shabbat is an
archetype mentioned in Jewish songs (e.g., Baruch El Elyon) and the
intended audience for various treatises on Jewish law and practice for
Shabbat (e.g., Shemirat
There are often disagreements between Orthodox
Jews and non-Orthodox
Jews as to the practical observance of the Sabbath. The (strict)
observance of the
Sabbath is often seen as a benchmark for orthodoxy
and indeed has legal bearing on the way a
Jew is seen by an orthodox
religious court regarding their affiliation to Judaism. See Rabbi
Joseph B. Soloveitchik's "Beis HaLevi" commentary on parasha Ki Tissa
for further elaboration regarding the legal ramifications.
The 39 categories of melakhah are:
making two loops
weaving two threads
separating two threads
cutting hide to shape
writing two or more letters
erasing two or more letters
extinguishing a fire
kindling a fire
putting the finishing touch on an object, and
transporting an object (between private and public domains, or over 4
cubits within public domain)
The categories of labors prohibited on
Shabbat are exegetically
derived – on account of Biblical passages juxtaposing Shabbat
observance (Ex. 35:1–3) to making the
Tabernacle (Ex. 35:4
ff.) – that they are the kinds of work that were necessary for
the construction of the Tabernacle. They are not explicitly listed in
the Torah; the
Mishnah observes that "the laws of
Shabbat ... are like
mountains hanging by a hair, for they are little Scripture but many
laws". Many rabbinic scholars have pointed out that these labors
have in common activity that is "creative", or that exercises control
or dominion over one's environment.
Orthodox and Conservative
Different streams of
Judaism view the prohibition on work in different
ways. Observant Orthodox and Conservative
Jews refrain from performing
the 39 prohibited categories of activities. Each melakhah has derived
prohibitions of various kinds. There are, therefore, many more
forbidden activities on Shabbat; all are traced back to one of the 39
above principal melakhoth.
Given the above, the 39 melakhoth are not so much activities as
"categories of activity". For example, while "winnowing" usually
refers exclusively to the separation of chaff from grain, and
"selecting" refers exclusively to the separation of debris from grain,
they refer in the Talmudic sense to any separation of intermixed
materials which renders edible that which was inedible. Thus,
filtering undrinkable water to make it drinkable falls under this
category, as does picking small bones from fish (gefilte fish is one
solution to this problem).
Electricity on Shabbat
Orthodox and some Conservative authorities rule that turning electric
devices on or off is prohibited as a melakhah; however, authorities
are not in agreement about exactly which one(s). One view is that tiny
sparks are created in a switch when the circuit is closed, and this
would constitute lighting a fire (category 37). If the appliance is
purposed for light or heat (such as an incandescent bulb or electric
oven), then the lighting or heating elements may be considered as a
type of fire that falls under both lighting a fire (category 37) and
cooking (i.e., baking, category 11). Turning lights off would be
extinguishing a fire (category 36).
Another view is that a device plugged into an electrical outlet of a
wall becomes part of the building, but is nonfunctional while the
switch is off; turning it on would then constitute building (category
35) and turning it off would be demolishing (category 34). Some
schools of thought consider the use of electricity to be forbidden
only by rabbinic injunction, rather than because it violates one of
the original categories.
A common solution to the problem of electricity involves preset timers
Shabbat clocks) for electric appliances, to turn them on and off
automatically, with no human intervention on
Shabbat itself. Some
Conservative authorities reject altogether the arguments
for prohibiting the use of electricity. Some Orthodox also hire a
"Shabbos goy", a Gentile to perform prohibited tasks (like operating
light switches) on Shabbat.
Main article: Driving during Shabbat
Orthodox and many Conservative authorities completely prohibit the use
of automobiles on
Shabbat as a violation of multiple categories,
including lighting a fire, extinguishing a fire, and transferring
between domains (category 39). However, the Conservative movement's
Committee on Jewish Law and Standards permits driving to a synagogue
on Shabbat, as an emergency measure, on the grounds that if
contact with synagogue life they would become lost to the Jewish
A halakhically authorized
Shabbat mode added to a power-operated
mobility scooter may be used on the observance of
Shabbat for those
with walking limitations, often referred to as a
Shabbat scooter. It
is intended only for individuals whose limited mobility is dependent
on a scooter or automobile consistently throughout the week.
Seemingly "forbidden" acts may be performed by modifying technology
such that no law is actually violated. In
Sabbath mode, a "Sabbath
elevator" will stop automatically at every floor, allowing people to
step on and off without anyone having to press any buttons, which
would normally be needed to work. (
Dynamic braking is also disabled if
it is normally used, i.e., shunting energy collected from downward
travel, and thus the gravitational potential energy of passengers,
into a resistor network.) However, many rabbinical authorities
consider the use of such elevators by those who are otherwise capable
as a violation of Shabbat, with such workarounds being for the benefit
of the frail and handicapped and not being in the spirit of the day.
Jews avoid the prohibition of carrying by use of an
eruv. Others make their keys into a tie bar, part of a belt buckle, or
a brooch, because a legitimate article of clothing or jewelry may be
worn rather than carried. An elastic band with clips on both ends, and
with keys placed between them as integral links, may be considered a
Shabbat lamps have been developed to allow a light in a room to be
turned on or off at will while the electricity remains on. A special
mechanism blocks out the light when the off position is desired
without violating Shabbat.
Shabbos App is a proposed
Android app claimed by its creators to
enable Orthodox Jews, and all Jewish Sabbath-observers, to use a
smartphone to text on the Jewish Sabbath. It has met with resistance
from some authorities.
Main article: Pikuach nefesh
In the event that a human life is in danger (pikuach nefesh), a
not only allowed, but required, to violate any halakhic law
that stands in the way of saving that person (excluding murder,
idolatry, and forbidden sexual acts). The concept of life being in
danger is interpreted broadly: for example, it is mandated that one
Shabbat to bring a woman in active labor to a hospital. Lesser
rabbinic restrictions are often violated under much less urgent
circumstances (a patient who is ill but not critically so).
We did everything to save lives, despite Shabbat. People asked, 'Why
are you here? There are no
Jews here', but we are here because the
Torah orders us to save lives .... We are desecrating
— Mati Goldstein, commander of the Jewish
ZAKA rescue-mission to
the 2010 Haiti earthquake
Various other legal principles closely delineate which activities
constitute desecration of Shabbat. Examples of these include the
principle of shinui ("change" or "deviation"): A violation is not
regarded as severe if the prohibited act was performed in a way that
would be considered abnormal on a weekday. Examples include writing
with one's nondominant hand, according to many rabbinic authorities.
This legal principle operates bedi'avad (ex post facto) and does not
cause a forbidden activity to be permitted barring extenuating
Reform and Reconstructionist
Generally, adherents of Reform and Reconstructionist
that the individual
Jew determines whether to follow Shabbat
prohibitions or not. For example, some
Jews might find activities,
such as writing or cooking for leisure, to be enjoyable enhancements
Shabbat and its holiness, and therefore may encourage such
practices. Many Reform
Jews believe that what constitutes "work" is
different for each person, and that only what the person considers
"work" is forbidden. The radical Reform rabbi Samuel Holdheim
Sunday for many no longer observed it, a
step taken by dozens of congregations in the United States in late
More rabbinically traditional Reform and Reconstructionist Jews
believe that these halakhoth in general may be valid, but that it is
up to each individual to decide how and when to apply them. A small
Jews in the Progressive Jewish community accept these laws
much the same way as Orthodox Jews.
Jewish denominations encourage the following activities on
Reading, studying, and discussing
Torah and commentary,
Talmud, and learning some halakha and midrash.
Synagogue attendance for prayers.
Spending time with other
Jews and socializing with family, friends,
and guests at
Shabbat meals (hachnasat orchim, "hospitality").
Singing zemiroth or niggunim, special songs for
(commonly sung during or after a meal).
Marital relations between husband and wife.
Special Shabbatoth are the Shabbatoth that precede important
Jewish holidays: e.g.,
Shabbat haGadol (
Shabbat preceding Pesach),
Shabbat Zachor (
Shabbat preceding Purim), and
Shabbat Shuvah (or
Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur).
Main articles: First-day
Sabbath and Seventh-day Sabbath
Most Christians do not observe Saturday Sabbath, but instead observe a
weekly day of worship on Sunday, which is often called the "Lord's
Christian denominations, such as the Seventh-day
Adventist Church, the Church of God (7th Day), the Seventh Day
Baptists, and many others, observe seventh-day Sabbath. This
observance is celebrated from
Friday sunset to Saturday sunset.
The principle of weekly
Sabbath also exists in other beliefs. Examples
include the Babylonian calendar, the
Buddhist uposatha, and the
Unification Church's Ahn Shi Il.
Sabbath in Christianity
Sabbath in seventh-day churches
^ Shulchan Aruch,
Orach Chayim 293:2
^ Every Person's Guide to Shabbat, by Ronald H. Isaacs, Jason Aronson,
1998, p. 6
^ a b Landau, Judah Leo. The Sabbath. Johannesburg, South Africa: Ivri
Publishing Society, Ltd. pp. 2, 12. Retrieved 2009-03-26.
^ Graham, I. L. (2009). "The Origin of the Sabbath". Presbyterian
Church of Eastern Australia. Archived from the original on December 3,
2008. Retrieved 2009-03-26.
^ "Jewish religious year: The Sabbath". Encyclopædia Britannica.
Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-26. According
to biblical tradition, it commemorates the original seventh day on
which God rested after completing the creation. Scholars have not
succeeded in tracing the origin of the seven-day week, nor can they
account for the origin of the Sabbath.
^ Bechtel, Florentine (1912). "Sabbath". The Catholic Encyclopedia.
13. New York City: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved
^ a b Sampey, John Richard (1915). "Sabbath: Critical Theories". In
Orr, James. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.
Howard-Severance Company. p. 2630. Retrieved 2009-08-13.
^ "Mezad Hashavyahu Ostracon, c. 630 BCE". Retrieved 2012-09-12.
^ "Histoire du peuple hébreu". André Lemaire. Presses Universitaires
de France 2009 (8e édition), p. 66
^ Eviatar Zerubavel (1985). The Seven Day Circle: The History and
Meaning of the Week. University of Chicago Press.
^ Craveri, Marcello (1967). The
Life of Jesus. Grove Press.
^ Joseph, Max (1943). "Holidays". In Landman, Isaac. The Universal
Jewish Encyclopedia: An authoritative and popular presentation of Jews
Judaism since the earliest times. 5. Cohen, Simon, compiler. The
Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, Inc. p. 410.
^ Joseph, Max (1943). "Sabbath". In Landman, Isaac. The Universal
Jewish Encyclopedia: An authoritative and popular presentation of Jews
Judaism since the earliest times. 9. Cohen, Simon, compiler. The
Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, Inc. p. 295.
^ Cohen, Simon (1943). "Week". In Landman, Isaac. The Universal Jewish
Encyclopedia: An authoritative and popular presentation of
Judaism since the earliest times. 10. Cohen, Simon, compiler. The
Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, Inc. p. 482.
^ See e.g. Numbers 15:32–36.
^ Proverbs 31:10–31
^ Ferguson, Joey (May 20, 2011). "Jewish lecture series focuses on
Sabbath Course at Chabad center focuses on secrets of sabbath's
serenity". Deseret News. The more we are able to invest in it, the
more we are able to derive pleasure from the Sabbath." Jewish belief
is based on understanding that observance of the
Sabbath is the source
of all blessing, said
Rabbi Zippel in an interview. He referred to the
Sabbath as a time where individuals disconnect themselves from
all endeavors that enslave them throughout the week and compared the
day to pressing a reset button on a machine. A welcome prayer over
wine or grape juice from the men and candle lighting from the women
invokes the Jewish
Friday at sundown.
^ "Strassburg, Robert". Milken Archive of Jewish Music. Retrieved 8
^ Shulchan Aruch,
Orach Chaim 261.
^ Derived from
^ Klein, Miriam (April 27, 2011). "
Sabbath Offers Serenity in a
Fast-Paced World". Triblocal. Chicago Tribune.
^ Neulander, Arthur (1950). "The Use of
Electricity on the Sabbath".
Proceedings of the Rabbinical Assembly. 14: 165–171.
^ Adler, Morris; Agus, Jacob; Friedman, Theodore (1950). "Responsum on
the Sabbath". Proceedings of the Rabbinical Assembly. 14:
^ Klein, Isaac. A Guide to Jewish Religious Practice. The Jewish
Theological Seminary of America: New York, 1979.
^ Hannah Dreyfus (October 2, 2014). "New
Shabbos App Creates Uproar
Among Orthodox Circles". The Jewish Week. Archived from the original
on October 7, 2014. Retrieved October 12, 2014.
David Shamah (October 2, 2014). "App lets Jewish kids text on
Sabbath – and stay in the fold; The 'Shabbos App' is generating
controversy in the Jewish community – and a monumental on-line
discussion of Jewish law". The Times of Israel. Retrieved October 3,
^ Daniel Koren (October 2, 2014). "Finally, Now You Can Text on
Saturdays Thanks to New 'Shabbos App'". Shalom Life. Archived from the
original on October 7, 2014. Retrieved October 12, 2014.
^ "Will the
Shabbos App Change Jewish Life, Raise Rabbinic Ire, or
Both?". Jewish Business News. October 2, 2014. Retrieved October 12,
^ 8 saved during "
Shabbat from hell" Archived 2010-01-19 at the
Wayback Machine. (January 17, 2010) in
Israel 21c Innovation News
Service Retrieved 2010–01–18
ZAKA rescue mission to Haiti 'proudly desecrating Shabbat' Religious
rescue team holds
Shabbat prayer with members of international
missions in Port au-Prince. Retrieved 2010–01–22
ZAKA mission to Haiti 'proudly desecrating Shabbat'". Ynetnews.com.
Retrieved 8 October 2017.
^ Faigin, Daniel P. (2003-09-04). "Soc.Culture.Jewish Newsgroups
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers". Usenet. p. 18.4.7.
^ "The Sunday-
Sabbath Movement in American Reform Judaism: Strategy or
Evolution" (PDF). Americanjewisharchives.org. Retrieved 8 October
^ Shulkhan Arukh,
Orach Chaim 280:1
Look up Shabbat or shabbat in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Sabbath in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
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Shabbat according to RaMBaM
and the later halakhic literature. In: Limudim. Ktav-Et virtualit
le-Inyane Hinukh we-Hora`ah, (
Sivan 2012), no. 4.
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