September 27, 2013 7:43 pm at 7:43 pm #610737
Im not sure why I picked this particular medium to search for advice but I hope someone has some. I come from a very religious MO home and I am what readers would call OTD. I left home about two years ago when I graduated high school and came to israel to learn in yeshiva for a year after which I made Aliyah and drafted to the IDF where I am currently serving. Thankfully I am doing very well in the army and I plan on continuing here and getting a university education payed for either by the IDF or the israeli government. I now feel like I have at least a general outline of a plan for my (at least near) future which dose not have any religion in it. My issue is that for a while now I have been living a completely secular life and I have not told my parents who still think that I am shomer mitzvot. I currently have a good relationship with my parents whom I speak to almost daily and I am afraid that I may mess it up if I come clean. I also feel that even if they accept the fact that I am OTD they may be offended by the fact that I have hid it from them for so long. Additionally they are having some issues at home which I do not want to elaborate about here which I do not want to add to, and finally I have no idea how to break the news to them.September 29, 2013 1:14 am at 1:14 am #977261live rightMember
what exactly do they think you’re doing?September 29, 2013 1:34 am at 1:34 am #977262☕ DaasYochid ☕Participant
There’s no good solution other than Teshuvah.
Aside from concern about your own neshamah, no manner of telling or not telling your parents can prevent their hearts from breaking.
May Hashem have mercy on you and them.September 29, 2013 1:55 am at 1:55 am #977263jewishfeminist02Member
Why do you feel the need to tell them at all? It will only cause them pain.September 29, 2013 3:15 am at 3:15 am #977265from Long IslandParticipant
Okay guys, he wants advice, not a judgement call of his lifestyle.
Now, going off the derech will be painful news to your parents no matter when you tell them. Young people often go off the derech, following a path that is attractive to them at that time.
You need to answer (to yourself) are you rejecting the PRACTICE of religion or do you truly not believe in G-D.
Will your parents will be visiting you in the near future? In which case they will see your “lack” of observance.
If not, you need to share with your parents, who love you very much, your doubts about the lifestyle you are choosing to leave, at this time. I strongly suggest that you do not shut doors behind you at this time. You need to tell your parents, but parents are usually quite intuitive when it comes to their children. I am sure they have “picked up” clues about your behavior and beliefs. It is up to you to share your ideas, ideals, doubts with them. DO NOT turn it into a shouting match, do not make it you vs. them. The conversation will be painful on both sides, but you need to start a dialogue with them as soon as possible.September 29, 2013 4:07 am at 4:07 am #977266the-art-of-moiParticipant
I agree with From Long Island- Hashem is the only being that has a right to judge people. We don’t know what Assaf has been through in life…September 29, 2013 4:08 am at 4:08 am #977267jewishfeminist02Member
rebdoniel, while you may have “easily adapted”, for most people it is a gradual and difficult process. Furthermore, since you chose this lifestyle voluntarily, you may have difficulty understanding why people would discard it. However, it’s very easy to take what you have for granted. The grass is always greener.
I would also add that there are plenty of frum parents who did everything right and still ended up with children who smoke, have sex, or are “at risk” in other ways. It’s not necessarily a side effect of public school or a secular upbringing. My husband went to public school and never did those things.September 29, 2013 4:23 am at 4:23 am #977268
@live right they know I am serving in the idf they just think that I am religious while I am not. @jewishfeminist I feel it is important that I share my lifestyle choices with the ones who raised me. @rebdoniel very interesting story but I stand behind my decision to live secularly and I belive it is possible to raise a happy and healthy family without religion. @ from long island thanx and they are not coming to visit anytime soonSeptember 29, 2013 4:45 am at 4:45 am #977269rebdonielMember
People are made by God for the purpose of serving Him. Your choices are irrational and contravene logic.
Do yourself a favor and read Aristotle and then the Moreh Nevuchim.
I always had an inner sense of morality, hence I never engaged in ishes-ish, etc. (Smoking, while unhealthy, actually isn’t seen as devinat in frum society; it is unfortunately an activity which many very frum yeshiva guys partake in). I don’t know what the OP’s circumstances are, but he should understand that his choices are heartbreaking for his mom and dad, since he’s rejecting everything they invested lots of time and money towards instilling in him. Some parents would even say kaddish and sit shiva for such a kid.September 29, 2013 5:08 am at 5:08 am #977270
The-art-of-moi, you are wrong.September 29, 2013 5:35 am at 5:35 am #977271
Jewishfeminist, it is a fact that by the secular people those problems that rebdoniel described are by far more likely to occur.September 29, 2013 6:03 am at 6:03 am #977272interjectionParticipant
Ultimately a parent wants their child to be happy. Parents will promote the lifestyle that they believe will make their child happiest and when the child rejects it and the parents are upset, it is because the parents believe that the child will be less happy. If you truly believe this is the right decision for you, explain to them why you feel this is what you need for your life and for your happiness. Besides, modern orthodoxy is unsustainable. It essentially is the cultural aspects of Judaism without the heart which almost forces one to choose one way or the other.September 29, 2013 6:32 am at 6:32 am #977273popa_bar_abbaParticipant
When I hear that someone has been living a hidden life from their parents, and is afraid to tell his parents of his life choices–I don’t really wonder why he made those life choices.September 29, 2013 7:42 am at 7:42 am #977274WIYMember
Any adult from a frum home who goes off would be afraid to tell their parents for various reasons especially if they still want to be close to them. I don’t know what you mean.September 29, 2013 7:49 am at 7:49 am #977275WIYMember
All of Klal Yisroel is connected and we are one family. You are in the army so you will understand this term “you are a deserter.” You have a mission which is vital both to yourself which is your neshama and also vital to the Jewish people as a whole. You just left the front lines and nobody can replace you. Furthermore how can you do this to your future generations all your future children and grandchildren? How can you be so selfish and shortsighted? How can you rob them of their eternity?September 29, 2013 8:07 am at 8:07 am #977276chalilavchasMember
Assaf, you sound like a very well thought out individual. I wonder, was your decision to go OTD based on disappointment with frum Jews, or disagreement with the Orthodox aproach to Judaism, or difficulty with keeping Mitzvos?
Please read the book One People, Two Worlds: A Reform Rabbi and an Orthodox Rabbi Explore the Issues That Divide Them.
While I personally am a “Derech Emtzai” person, admiring most a middle of the road practice of Orthodoxy, I loved Rabbi Reinman’s thoughts and explanations, as did many others from all walks of life, who reviewed the book on Amazon. This book will give you much to think about. You might figure things out about yourself and your choices. It might speak to some of your doubts and guide you for the future. I dont think you will regret it.September 29, 2013 9:22 am at 9:22 am #977277popa_bar_abbaParticipant
WIY: No, only those who think their parents only value them as long as they are frum. Not very good parents in my opinion.September 29, 2013 11:22 am at 11:22 am #977278tahiniMember
A good son who keeps in contact with his parents and has a warm relationship with them remains a good son whether or not he is off the derech.
Your honesty and desire to come clean show you are a person of principle, if you stay in regular contact with your parents and have kept quiet about your degree of observance that shows delicacy and hesitation which is natural. I am a mother of grown up boys, and believe me no one can tell or make sure their kids do all they want them to do, it is not right or proper for them to do so. If you have a good relationship with your parents and love them, be gentle and respectful but honest too. Not easy at all, but believe me a polite caring son who is not obsrvant is easier to come to terms with and more likely to be heard and appreciated. Initially they may be hurt and surprised, they may have some concerns they have not aired before but suspected nonetheless. You are their son, and if things are handled calmly and respectfully, then the relationship in the long term will not usually be lost. Your story is far from unusual, your dilemmas have been shared by many, I have been through this with one of my sons, yes I was upset he was not shomer mitzvot but most of all I cared that he knew we loved him and valued him, not just his observance. Things that alter parents perception of OTD children is when a relationship with a non Jew develops as that is crossing a line many of us find too painful to deal with, that is not lack of obsrvance but in my book desertion. To choose a secular life is your right, so is being a good respectful son, give it your best shot, knowing you did your best and showed your parents you still love them deeply is really important. Many young men and women wrestle with mitzvot, as a religiousJewish mother I appreciate honesty above all else. I would hate my son to go through the motions, or live a lie for parental acceptance.September 29, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am #977279zahavasdadParticipant
Besides, modern orthodoxy is unsustainable. It essentially is the cultural aspects of Judaism without the heart which almost forces one to choose one way or the other.
Differnt forms of orthodoxy are for different people. Some people just cannot handle the Yeshivish/Kollel Lifestyle , Some cannot handle the Chassidic lifestyle and some cannot handle the Modern Lifestyle.
Everyone is different and has different needs. Some people need chumras and love them and some get overwhelmed by them and go off because its too much for them.
Not everyone can get married at 19 and have 14 kids , not everyone can sit and learn 15 hours a day and not everyone can go into the outside world and work with all kinds of people including those who life lifestyles your abhor without making comments.September 29, 2013 11:57 am at 11:57 am #977280
PBA, al pi Torah parents that is. This time, PBA, wrong to the left.September 29, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm #977281Shraga18Participant
Could you tell us a little more about why and when you decided to go OTD? It may clarify things.September 29, 2013 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm #977282jewish sourceParticipant
If you truly feel the going OTD is the right thing to do be proud of it why not break the news to your parents in a royal way maybe they could see the light too.
If I won a million dollars I would be happy to share the good news with my parents.
But truth be told you you need to make a real cheshbon hanefesh and realize you could live a beautiful life and bring up a good family as a frum Jew
shachris and tefillin max 20 minutes a day
mincha five minutes
maarive another five
is that so difficult to ask for? but no do you know why its a nisayon because there is something divine that you will receive in return.
Truth be told yes that is too much to ask for because actually the Torah says that all G-D asks for is to fear him that’s all.September 29, 2013 1:11 pm at 1:11 pm #977283TheGoqParticipant
WIY do you even care why he “deserted” ? perhaps his commanding officer was very cruel to him and made him feel worthless maybe his fellow soldiers berated him and hurt him physically and emotionally, perhaps he was put on kp duty for weeks on end with no appreciation or gratitude while other soldiers ate and enjoyed the fruits of his labor. perhaps the officers who would visit the barracks a couple times a year would treat him like a servant and expect him to serve them and watch their children while they sat at the officers table and chatted for hours being treated like kings, i dont know his reasons but you cant judge a man unless you have walked in his shoes.September 29, 2013 1:23 pm at 1:23 pm #977284
Popa: Rav Shimon Schwab, at his Seder table, told his children “Children, I love you very much, but as much as I love you I love Hashem even more. And if you make me choose I will choose Hashem.” Was Rav Schwab a good parent in your opinion?September 29, 2013 1:25 pm at 1:25 pm #977285RedlegParticipant
In answer to PO’s question, there is no easy way to tell your parents about your current situation but nit is probably better to tell them then to have them find out through other means. Be prepared for a deal of turmoil anguish and recriminations. Make every effort to tell your parents that it’s not their failure, that nothing they did forced you away, that your lifestyle is not a reflection on their parenting, that you love and respect them, etc. but remember that they will be terribly hurt by your revelation. If they may, over time, come to terms with your decision.
While they probably will never accept your lifestyle, they may still maintain a loving relationship with you. However, be prepared for the possibility of that they may totally, or almost totally sever relations with you. You seem like a level-headed, mature young man. Certainly your military service has taught you to prepare for the worst and that “no plan outlives contact with the enemy”, I.E. things are certain to develop differently from what you expect, at least in some respects. I wish you good fortune and hope and pray that you will eventually return to your people and your G-d.
P.S. This fellow is an illustration of a point I have been making for years. OTD and “at risk” are not the same thing. “At risk” implies engaging in self destructive behavior. This guy isn’t a druggie, isn’t “hanging out”, Isn’t a threat to himself or others (yeah, except to his neshama). He seems rational, oisgehalten, put together, etc. The fact is some people simply come to the conclusion that Religion just isn’t for them, no risk involved.
PP.S. MDD, you can be as judgmental as you like. Your judgment and and mine are worth bupkes. The only judgement that counts is that of the Dayan HaEmes.September 29, 2013 3:48 pm at 3:48 pm #977286
1) it’s obvious that Assaf does not want a lot of the answers given here (like the guilt-tripping),
the fact also remains that
2) asking a question like this on a site populated by the types of people who are generally on here will probably NOT bring him the kinds of answers he expects.
Adding to this the fact that
3) there is really no good answer for the question,
I think that while I sympathize with Assaf’s plight (having to disappoint his parents), there are no good answers, as the two options seem to be to a) tell them or b) not tell them. There’s no way I can see to make it more palatable to them than it would be in a regular scenario. Now, of course, I have no idea what kind of a reaction you’re expecting from them, which is why I agree and disagree at the same time with PBA: while if his parents will completely flip their lids and sit shiva that’s not particularly healthy (to say the least), sometimes, a child might simply want not to disappoint their parents at all, and it seems (and obviously I have no way of knowing this) that Assaf merely wants a way of explaining this to his parents so that they’ll understand and not blame him at all. They could still ACCEPT him and LOVE him without APPROVING of his life choices- and it seems like Assaf wants to eat his cake and have it too, which may happen but there’s really no way to know for sure without knowing your parents.September 29, 2013 4:51 pm at 4:51 pm #977287TorahrocksMember
mdd you are right about the increased problems of being raised more secular vs more frum.
Also (I know you did not bring this up, so the following is a general idea and not addressed just to anyone in particular) no one, can know all the details of how someone was raised, no matter how much they ‘think’ they know: Not even if they grew up in the same family.
They cannot know every word of every conversation they had or every private good or bad moment that may have occured between parent and child, or every ache and physical or emotional pain the child had that may or may not have been addressed properly.
If only G-d can judge then that reservation of judgement to G-d alone, must include that only G-d can decide if the parants really ‘did everything right’ or not.September 29, 2013 5:50 pm at 5:50 pm #977288
At chalilavches, I purposely didn’t elaborate on my reason for “going off” so as not to detract from the point of my post, but it is because of difficulty beliving in religion from a logical standpointSeptember 29, 2013 6:21 pm at 6:21 pm #977289000646Participant
Can’t speak for Poppa but if he said that then nope I don’t think he was a very good parent. Doesn’t detract from his greatness in other areas thoughSeptember 29, 2013 6:27 pm at 6:27 pm #977290golferParticipant
Assaf, if I’m understanding you correctly, you no longer want to observe mitzvot, but you do want to maintain a close relationship with your parents. I don’t think you’re doing anyone a favor by not telling your parents about having made such an important decision. They are bound to find out eventually and will feel very hurt that you were not open and honest with them. Even if there could be some way that you could withhold the truth forever, you would still create a rift by not telling your parents the truth about your life, and by the the lying (or prevaricating if you prefer) that is bound to occur, etc.
Your parents will definitely be hurt and upset to hear of your choices, but I think you have to tell them. Be respectful, be gentle, try to be sensitive to their feelings, but do tell them the truth. You allude to “issues at home.” I obviously don’t know what those issues are, but if there is friction between your parents, it’s important that you explain that you made this decision on your own. Don’t leave any room for them to blame each other (or possibly your other siblings or relatives) for what happened. Hopefully, you and your parents will find a way to remain close and to continue to love and respect each other.September 29, 2013 6:29 pm at 6:29 pm #977291
@tahini, thanks for your post it helps to hear such things from someone who has gone through a similar situation as a parentSeptember 29, 2013 6:49 pm at 6:49 pm #977292rebdonielMember
I’d also say that the fact that you’re living in Israel, serving to defend the land and the people of Israel, and are still probably living somewhat Jewishly, as Israeli society inherently follows Jewish time and norms, attests that you’re not entirely a lost soul. Your parents should still be proud of you. I’m certainly proud of any young person who volunteers to enlist in the IDF, but I’d also say that Zionism and living in Israel only is worth anything if it’s accompanied by spiritual elevation, or aliyah, as well. And for Jews, keeping the Torah and its mitzvot is the only means of experiencing such elevation.September 29, 2013 6:50 pm at 6:50 pm #977293the-art-of-moiParticipant
Wrong in what aspect? I am merely stating that Hashem is the only being in existance that can properly judge a person. I’m sorry you dont feel that way.September 29, 2013 6:55 pm at 6:55 pm #977294
Popa: Rav Shimon Schwab, at his Seder table, told his children “Children, I love you very much, but as much as I love you I love Hashem even more. And if you make me choose I will choose Hashem.” Was Rav Schwab a good parent in your opinion?
Can’t speak for Poppa but if he said that then nope I don’t think he was a very good parent. Doesn’t detract from his greatness in other areas though
That means 000646 disagrees with RSS. Do we take a popular vote, democratic style, to determine who is correct between the two of you?September 29, 2013 7:17 pm at 7:17 pm #977295
commonart: that story was written in a VERY controversial piece in Mishpacha that for all practical purposes ended up retracted. Rav Schwab’s son wrote an op-ed afterward saying that the story was not true the way it was told (it was actually his grandfather who said it and what he said was entirely different, etc.).
That’s forgetting about the fact that just because someone is great in one area, that doesn’t mean he/she will be great in other areas. This has NOTHING to do with Rav Schwab, of whom I don’t know very much, but rather in general, as a question out of curiosity- can you say that a given talmid chochom or even mechanech is necessarily the greatest parent in every respect? After all, NO parent is the greatest parent in every respect.
This is not intended to be disrespectful, just curious- my grandfather was a close talmid of a gadol and posek hador of the last generation and is very close friends with his sons, and the big impression I get from his stories is that of greatness through NORMALCY. He was an amazing person, but you knew that he was a real person, unlike the images you get in biographies and articles.
Sorry about the rant, and this is completely off-topic, but this is something I’ve historically not gotten at all.September 29, 2013 7:32 pm at 7:32 pm #977296000646Participant
On parenting? I am sure most would agree that the example you gave is bad parenting. Could be there was context there that would justify it but as a general rule if that’s how he parented I think most people experts or otherwise would agree with me on this one.September 29, 2013 7:52 pm at 7:52 pm #977297ShanifirstMember
Tell the WHOLE story from the beginning to the end and don’t make up anything. If you do make something up you may be caught in a lie. I love being frum:) 🙂September 29, 2013 8:02 pm at 8:02 pm #977298
writersoul: Actually I read Rav Schwab’s son’s recent article. He clearly testified first-hand that the story is true. Then he added a caveat that he doesn’t think today’s generation is capable of digesting this truth due to our many weaknesses and sins. He believes other methods are needed to relate our love and Hashem’s love to this generation. Nevertheless both the story and the point are fundamentally true.September 29, 2013 8:35 pm at 8:35 pm #977299NechomahParticipant
Assaf, I’m not sure what “logical” arguments you have gone through to come to the conclusion that it is difficult to believe in religion, since I would guess that you’re somewhere between 20 and 25 (closer to 20 would be my guess), but when I was growing up, being fed secular education my whole life, I also had difficulty believing in the first page of the Torah, since “logically” how could I believe in it since I did not believe that Hashem created the world, so if page 1 was false, logically the rest was also. I felt that it was a good argument and carried on with my life without compunction.
Many messengers were sent to me through different means at a particular point in my life, when I was almost 30, which sent me to a Discovery seminar being held in my area. I felt that I was going to gain nothing and was really going just to satisfy these various messengers without any intention of doing anything different afterwards.
I was seriously wrong on many counts. Listening to the lecturers at Discovery gave me such insight into the “illogic” of my arguments and presented me with such evidence to the opposite(and not just fancy “codes” in the Torah – which for me were just icing on the cake), that I was simply not able to logically maintain a secular life anymore and made my way to becoming shomer mitzvot.
Only people who have spent time answering logical questions that people like yourself ask are the people for you to turn to if you want to confirm your “logical” arguments. Maybe you should ask them some of them before you permanently alter the relationship you so value with your parents. Obviously for some reason they decided that a religious life is the best thing for themselves and wanted to bring their children up as such. What do you think, that they were brainwashed or they are simply not thinking through things? If you respect them, then you most probably feel that they are intelligent people, and it is their due that you should fully investigate the basis for their lifestyle before you reject it. Discovery has seminars routinely in the Old City in Jerusalem. If you have a furlough from the army, maybe you should look into it. It’s only a day or two, aren’t your parents worth that much of your time, considering how much of their time they have given you?September 29, 2013 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm #977300RedlegParticipant
On further consideration, it seems that this is not a binary issue of tell them/don’t tell them. What about just “faking it”? I take it that your parents live in the U.S. When you visit them or they visit you what’s wrong with simply behaving in the manner that your parents expect? What you do on your own time is your business. Why not spare your parents the grief and anguish of knowing that you are lost to them (in some fashion, at least), and who knows,” im lo l’shmah, bo l’shmah”.September 29, 2013 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm #977301Shraga18Participant
“it is because of difficulty beliving in religion from a logical standpoint”
From all the possibilities, that is the one I least expected. I would say your standpoint is actually illogical taking into account the many brilliant religious scientists who believe in Hashem and torah. I personally knew one (Google Leon Ehrenpreis) who was a prize-winning Nationally renown mathematician who proved a mathematical theorem, called after him.
Have you discussed your “logical” problems with people who are qualified to discuss them? If not, I would suspect that while you profess your motive to be logic (and you may even believe this yourself), it is but a cover for other, less logical motives for wanting to be irreligious.September 29, 2013 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm #977302funnyboneParticipant
You say that you would like to “come clean.” That’s an expression commonly used for people who have done something wrong. What are your feelings about going OTD? Are you uncomfortable with yourself?
I can say that I disagree with Popa, you probably have great parents and it’s okay to not want to tell them something that would hurt their feelings.
Can you find a middle ground, where you keep kosher and Shabbos (or at least some parts of Shabbos)? You would be able to be comfortable with where you are, yet you wouldn’t feel a need to tell your parents anything as you are still keeping the faith. Good luck with your decision.September 29, 2013 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm #977303
commonart- we must have read different articles then… the entire POINT of the article was to contradict the first which quoted the original story (and the story as quoted in the original article was definitely mentioned to be incorrect at least in some pretty major details).September 29, 2013 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm #977304from Long IslandParticipant
you sound so young and so conflicted. I can tell you, that as a parent, I must allow my adult children to make their own choices, not approving them, but accepting them.
It is a hard place to be as a parent, but if you love your children, if you admire the person he/she has become, then you must accept their lifestyle choice, even when it conflicts with your own beliefs.
It is very important to keep in mind, that at all times, you must be respectful of the values your parents hold onto. Do not expect them to reciprocate, at the beginning. They probably never will, because we, as parents, always assume we are “right”. At the same time, the love, affection and that we feel for our children should always outweigh our personal disappointments we may feel in a child’s choice of lifestyle.
You must make it very clear, that your choices are your own, made independently of the home you were brought up in, independent of the home dynamics and independent of the inter-family relationships you were brought up in and with.
Only then, can your parents be accepting, without blame and without guilt, which is very necessary for you and them to maintain a relationship.
I wish you much luck. It will take time. It will be painful, but you will get through it.September 29, 2013 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm #977306
Basically, commonart, +1!September 30, 2013 12:05 am at 12:05 am #977307OutsiderMember
At least he is still in Israel. If you choose to live a secular life, at least stay there, where you have a much smaller chance of marrying a goy.
Also, you will have more opportunities to observe your religion if you choose to. If you move back to the states, your life will be lost.September 30, 2013 12:33 am at 12:33 am #977308
A proof that we should love Hashem more than we love our children can be seen from the halacha that it is forbidden to kiss our children in shul. The reason given is because we must love Hashem more than our child.September 30, 2013 2:22 am at 2:22 am #977309
Writesoul, the story the way it was brought down totally conforms with the Torah. Just look in “Zos ha’berochah”. How did Levi’im merit what they did? There are halochos in Sh. Ar. which go with this hashkofah. Just accept what the Torah says.September 30, 2013 2:29 am at 2:29 am #977310
Just btw, I think Assaf is a troll. Proof? I don’t think the IDF pays for people’s university degrees. It is a US thing where there is no draft and they offer perks to enlist. The IDF would have been bankrupt by now if they paid for every guy. Our “Assaf” seems not know the Israeli realities.September 30, 2013 3:30 am at 3:30 am #977311farrockgrandmaParticipant
I understand the feeling that you don’t want to deceive your family, but ever hear of the concept of TMI – too much information? Yes, be truthful, but consider that your parents may not want to hear you spell out exactly how you are rejecting their values. Drops some hints, make a few comments about your plans and activities and wait to see if they are asking questions. No need to rub their face in your reality. Remember – “I appreciate what I’ve learned from you, but religion is not a central part of my life right now.” Leave the door open. Two years out of high school?! Think how much you and your perspective have changed in the last few years, what makes you think that there is nothing left to change?
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