ב"ה

Rambam - 1 Chapter a Day

Ishut - Chapter Twenty

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Ishut - Chapter Twenty

1

Our Sages decreed that a man give a certain portion of his holdings to his daughter as a dowry.1 This is referred to as parnasah. When [a man] marries off his daughter, he should provide her with at least the wardrobe that is given to the wife of a poor Jewish man, as we have explained.2

When does the above apply? When [the bride's] father is poor. If he is wealthy, he should provide for his daughter according to his standards.

א

צִוּוּ חֲכָמִים שֶׁיִּתֵּן אָדָם מִנְּכָסָיו מְעַט לְבִתּוֹ כְּדֵי שֶׁתִּנָּשֵׂא בּוֹ וְזֶה הוּא הַנִּקְרָא פַּרְנָסָה. הַמַּשִּׂיא אֶת בִּתּוֹ סְתָם לֹא יִפְחֹת לָהּ מִכְּסוּת שֶׁפּוֹסְקִין לְאֵשֶׁת עָנִי שֶׁבְּיִשְׂרָאֵל כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ. בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בְּשֶׁהָיָה הָאָב עָנִי אֲבָל אִם הָיָה עָשִׁיר הֲרֵי זֶה רָאוּי לִתֵּן לָהּ כְּפִי עָשְׁרוֹ:

2

If a father explicitly tells the prospective husband that his daughter does not possess anything, and that [his intent is that] he marry her although she does not possess a wardrobe, [the bride] is not entitled to anything of her father's.

[In such a situation, the prospective] husband should not say: "When she comes to my home, I will provide her with a wardrobe." Instead, he should provide her with a wardrobe while she is living in her father's home.

ב

פֵּירֵשׁ עַל הַבַּעַל שֶׁאֵין לָהּ כְּלוּם וְשֶׁיַּכְנִיסֶנָּה עֲרֻמָּה אֵין לָהּ כְּלוּם. וְלֹא יֹאמַר הַבַּעַל כְּשֶׁתָּבוֹא לְבֵיתִי אֲכַסֶּנָּה אֶלָּא מְכַסֶּנָּה וְהִיא בְּבֵית אָבִיהָ:

3

When a father dies and leaves [at least one son and] a daughter [she is provided with a dowry from his estate]. We estimate what the father would have desired to give the daughter as a dowry, and she is given [that sum].

How is it possible to arrive at such an estimate? [We survey the habits of] his friends and acquaintances, his business affairs and his standard of living. If he married off a daughter during his lifetime, we base our estimate [on what she was given]. If the court is unable to determine what he would have desired [to give his daughter], she is given a tenth of his estate as a dowry.3

ג

הָאָב שֶׁמֵּת וְהִנִּיחַ בַּת אוֹמְדִין דַּעְתּוֹ כַּמָּה הָיָה בְּלִבּוֹ לִתֵּן לָהּ לְפַרְנָסָה וְנוֹתְנִין לָהּ. וּמִנַּיִן יוֹדְעִין אֻמְדַּן דַּעְתּוֹ. מֵרֵעָיו וּמְיֻדָּעָיו וּמַשָּׂאוֹ וּמַתָּנוֹ וּכְבוֹדוֹ. וְכֵן אִם הִשִּׂיא בַּת בְּחַיָּיו אוֹמְדִין בָּהּ. וְאִם לֹא יָדְעוּ לוֹ בֵּית דִּין אֻמְדַּן דַּעַת נוֹתְנִין לָהּ מִנְּכָסָיו עִשּׂוּר לְפַרְנָסָתָהּ:

4

When a man leaves [a son and] many daughters, the first [daughter] who desires to marry4 is given a tenth of the estate. The second [daughter to marry] receives a tenth of what was left after providing the first [daughter with her dowry]. And the third daughter receives a tenth of what was left after providing the second [daughter].

If all [a man's] daughters come to marry at the same time, [money is set aside for them according to the above pattern,] even if there are ten daughters [or more]. Afterwards, [all the allotments are pooled], and then divided equally among the daughters. The remainder of the estate is given to the sons.

ד

הִנִּיחַ בָּנוֹת רַבּוֹת כָּל שֶׁתָּבוֹא לְהִנָּשֵׂא נוֹתְנִין לָהּ עִשּׂוּר הַנְּכָסִים. וְשֶׁלְּאַחֲרֶיהָ עִשּׂוּר מַה שֶׁשִּׁיְּרָה רִאשׁוֹנָה. וְשֶׁל אַחֲרֶיהָ עִשּׂוּר מַה שֶׁשִּׁיְּרָה שְׁנִיָּה. וְאִם בָּאוּ כֻּלָּן לְהִנָּשֵׂא כְּאַחַת רִאשׁוֹנָה נוֹטֶלֶת עִשּׂוּר. וְהַשְּׁנִיָּה עִשּׂוּר מַה שֶּׁשִּׁיְּרָה רִאשׁוֹנָה. וְהַשְּׁלִישִׁית עִשּׂוּר מַה שֶּׁשִּׁיְּרָה שְׁנִיָּה וְכֵן אֲפִלּוּ הֵן עֶשֶׂר וְחוֹזְרוֹת וְחוֹלְקוֹת כָּל הָעִשּׂוּרִים בְּשָׁוֶה. וּשְׁאָר הַנְּכָסִים לַאַחִים:

5

The allotment of a tenth [of the estate] as a dowry is not one of the provisions of the ketubah. Therefore, even according to the enactment of the later Sages,5 it is only to be collected from landed property.6 It may, however, be collected from rent due for landed property.7 If, however, [a girl's] brothers desire to give her money in lieu of a tenth of the landed property, they have that right.

ה

עִשּׂוּר זֶה שֶׁהוּא לְפַרְנָסָה אֵינוֹ מִתְּנָאֵי כְּתֻבָּה לְפִיכָךְ אֲפִלּוּ לְפִי תַּקָּנַת חֲכָמִים (הָרִאשׁוֹנִים) וְאַחֲרוֹנִים אֵינָהּ נוֹטֶלֶת אֶלָּא מִן הַקַּרְקַע וְיֵשׁ לָהּ לִגְבּוֹת עִשּׂוּר זֶה מִשְּׂכִירוּת הַקַּרְקַע וְאִם רָצוּ הָאַחִין לִתֵּן לָהּ מָעוֹת כְּנֶגֶד עִשּׂוּר הַקַּרְקַע נוֹתְנִין:

6

With regard to this allotment of a tenth [of the estate], the daughter is considered to be a creditor of her brothers. Therefore, she is entitled to collect it from property of intermediate quality. An oath is not required of her.

If her brothers die, she is entitled to collect it from their sons, [expropriating] property of inferior quality, and an oath8 is required of her. For she is collecting property from heirs, and [it is an accepted principle that] a person who comes to collect property from heirs may collect only from that of inferior quality and is required to take an oath [before doing so], as will be explained in the laws of loans.9

ו

הַבַּת בְּעִשּׂוּר זֶה כְּבַעֲלַת חוֹב שֶׁל אַחִין הִיא לְפִיכָךְ נוֹטֶלֶת אוֹתוֹ מִן הַבֵּינוֹנִית בְּלֹא שְׁבוּעָה. וְאִם מֵתוּ הָאַחִין נוֹטֶלֶת אוֹתוֹ מִן בְּנֵיהֶם מִזִּבּוּרִית וּבִשְׁבוּעָה שֶׁהֲרֵי הִיא נִפְרַעַת מִנִּכְסֵי יְתוֹמִים וְהַבָּא לִפָּרַע מִנִּכְסֵי יְתוֹמִים לֹא יִפָּרַע אֶלָּא מִזִּבּוּרִית וּבִשְׁבוּעָה כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בְּהִלְכוֹת הַלְוָאָה:

7

Should her brothers have sold the landed property of their father's estate, or given it as collateral, the daughter may collect her dowry from the purchasers,10 just as other creditors are entitled to collect from the purchasers, as will be explained in the laws of loans.11

ז

וְהָאַחִים שֶׁמָּכְרוּ אוֹ מִשְׁכְּנוּ קַרְקַע אֲבִיהֶם הַבַּת טוֹרֶפֶת מִן הַלָּקוֹחוֹת פַּרְנָסָתָהּ כְּדֶרֶךְ שֶׁטּוֹרְפִים כָּל בַּעֲלֵי חוֹבוֹת מִן הַלָּקוֹחוֹת כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בְּהִלְכוֹת הַלְוָאָה:

8

When a man has [several daughters, but] no sons, [his estate] is divided equally [among his daughters at the time of his death]. Although he married off the older daughters during his lifetime [and provided them with dowries], we do not grant dowries to the younger daughters and then divide the estate.

ח

מִי שֶׁהִשִּׂיא בָּנוֹת גְּדוֹלוֹת וְנִשְׁאֲרוּ קְטַנּוֹת וּמֵת בְּלֹא בֵּן אֵין נוֹטְלִין פַּרְנָסָה לִקְטַנּוֹת וְאַחַר כָּךְ חוֹלְקוֹת הַנְּכָסִים אֶלָּא חוֹלְקוֹת כֻּלָּן בְּשָׁוֶה:

9

[The following rules apply when a man] has died, leaving two daughters and a son. The older daughter received a tenth of the estate as a dowry, but before the younger daughter had collected her dowry, the son died [without leaving any heirs], and [the two sisters] inherited the entire estate. [In this situation,] the younger sister is not entitled to her tenth of the estate.12 Instead, the entire estate is divided equally, but the older sister is granted the tenth [she had received previously].13

ט

מִי שֶׁמֵּת וְהִנִּיחַ שְׁתֵּי בָּנוֹת וּבֵן וְקָדְמָה רִאשׁוֹנָה וְנָטְלָה עִשּׂוּר נְכָסִים וְלֹא הִסְפִּיקָה הַשְּׁנִיָּה לִגְבּוֹת עַד שֶׁמֵּת הַבֵּן וְנָפְלוּ כָּל הַנְּכָסִים לִשְׁתֵּיהֶן אֵין הַשְּׁנִיָּה נוֹטֶלֶת עִשּׂוּר אֶלָּא חוֹלְקוֹת בְּשָׁוֶה וְזָכְתָה הָרִאשׁוֹנָה בְּעִשּׂוּר שֶׁלָּהּ:

10

When a man gives an order at the time of his death: "Do not give my daughters a dowry from my estate," his words are heeded. [The rationale is that a dowry] is not one of the provisions of a ketubah.14

י

מִי שֶׁצִּוָּה בִּשְׁעַת מִיתָה אַל תְּפַרְנְסוּ בְּנוֹתַי מִנְּכָסַי שׁוֹמְעִים לוֹ שֶׁאֵין זֶה מִתְּנָאֵי כְּתֻבָּה:

11

[The following rules apply when] a man dies, leaving a widow and a daughter. It has already been explained15 that the support of a man's widow16 takes precedence over the support of his daughter. Similarly, if the daughter marries, she is not entitled to collect her tenth [of the estate], because of [the obligation to] support the widow.17

Even if the daughter dies after she marries, her husband is not entitled to inherit the dowry that should have been given her.18 For the entire estate is considered to be in the possession of the widow so that she can derive her sustenance.

יא

מִי שֶׁמֵּת וְהִנִּיחַ אַלְמָנָה וּבַת כְּבָר בֵּאַרְנוּ שֶׁמְּזוֹנוֹת הָאַלְמָנָה קוֹדְמִין לִמְזוֹנוֹת הַבַּת. וְכֵן אִם נִשֵּׂאת הַבַּת אֵינָהּ נוֹטֶלֶת עִשּׂוּר נְכָסִים מִפְּנֵי מְזוֹנוֹת הָאַלְמָנָה. וַאֲפִלּוּ מֵתָה הַבַּת אַחַר שֶׁנִּשֵּׂאת אֵין הַבַּעַל יוֹרֵשׁ פַּרְנָסָה הָרְאוּיָה לְהִנָּתֵן לָהּ שֶׁהֲרֵי הַנְּכָסִים כֻּלָּן בְּחֶזְקַת הָאַלְמָנָה שֶׁתְּהֵא נִזּוֹנֶת מֵהֶן:

12

When an orphan girl is married off by her brothers or her mother as a child with her consent, and she is given 50 or 100 zuz as a dowry, she is entitled to collect the dowry that is due her - according to the estimation of her father's desires or one tenth of the landed property19 [of his estate] - from them after she attains the age of majority.

[This applies] even if her brothers did not provide her with sustenance,20 and even if she did not object at the time of the wedding. For a minor is not capable of making an objection [in court].21

יב

קְטַנָּה יְתוֹמָה שֶׁהִשִּׂיאָתָהּ אִמָּהּ אוֹ אַחֶיהָ לְדַעְתָּהּ וְנָתְנוּ לָהּ מֵאָה אוֹ חֲמִשִּׁים זוּז יְכוֹלָה הִיא מִשֶּׁתַּגְדִּיל לְהוֹצִיא מִיָּדָם פַּרְנָסָה הָרְאוּיָה לָהּ. אוֹ בְּאֻמְדַּן דַּעַת הָאָב אוֹ בְּעִשּׂוּר הַקַּרְקָעוֹת. וַאֲפִלּוּ לֹא הָיוּ הָאַחִין זָנִין אוֹתָהּ. וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא מָחֲתָה בִּשְׁעַת נִשּׂוּאִין מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהַקְּטַנָּה אֵינָהּ בַּת מְחָאָה:

13

When a daughter marries after she reaches majority - whether as a na'arah or as a bogeret - and does not demand her dowry, she forfeits her dowry. If, however, she protested at the time of her marriage, she may collect her due whenever she desires.

[A further point must be considered when] she reaches the age of bagrut and remains in her father's house - regardless of whether she reaches bagrut after his death, or [he died] when she had already reached the age of bagrut.22 If her brothers have already ceased providing her with her sustenance, which is their prerogative, as we have explained,23 and [the girl] remained silent and did not demand her dowry, she forfeits her dowry. If she protests, she does not forfeit her dowry.

If, however, her brothers had not ceased providing her with her sustenance [although] she reached bagrut, she is not considered to have forfeited her dowry as long as they continue to provide her with her sustenance, even though she did not protest. For she can claim that she did not demand her dowry because [her brothers] are supporting her although they are not obligated to do so,24 and she has not yet married.25

יג

נִשֵּׂאת הַבַּת אַחַר שֶׁגָּדְלָה בֵּין נַעֲרָה בֵּין בּוֹגֶרֶת וְלֹא תָּבְעָה פַּרְנָסָתָהּ אִבְּדָה פַּרְנָסָתָהּ. וְאִם מִחֲתָה בְּעֵת נִשּׂוּאֶיהָ הֲרֵי זוֹ מוֹצִיאָה אֶת הָרָאוּי לָהּ כָּל זְמַן שֶׁתִּרְצֶה. בָּגְרָה וְעוֹדָהּ בְּבֵית אָבִיהָ בֵּין שֶׁבָּגְרָה אַחַר מוֹתוֹ בֵּין שֶׁהִנִּיחָהּ בּוֹגֶרֶת אִם פָּסְקוּ הָאַחִין מִלָּתֵת מְזוֹנוֹתֶיהָ שֶׁהֲרֵי אֵין לָהּ מְזוֹנוֹת כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ וְשָׁתְקָה וְלֹא תָּבְעָה פַּרְנָסָתָהּ אִבְּדָה פַּרְנָסָתָהּ. וְאִם מִחֲתָה לֹא אִבְּדָה פַּרְנָסָתָהּ. לֹא פָּסְקוּ הָאַחִים מְזוֹנוֹתֶיהָ וְזָנוּ אוֹתָהּ בְּבֶגֶר אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא מִחֲתָה לֹא אִבְּדָה פַּרְנָסָתָהּ כָּל זְמַן שֶׁהֵן זָנִין אוֹתָהּ. שֶׁיֵּשׁ לָהּ לִטְעֹן מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהֵן זָנִין אוֹתָהּ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵינָן חַיָּבִין וְהִיא עֲדַיִן לֹא נִשֵּׂאת מִפְּנֵי זֶה לֹא תָּבְעָה פַּרְנָסָתָהּ:

14

[The following rules apply when a man] stated - whether while making an oral will before death or while healthy - that his daughter should be given a specific sum of money as a dowry, and that this sum should be used to purchase landed property, and [then] died [afterwards].

When the money is in the possession of a third party and the daughter states: "Give the money to my husband and let him do with it as he desires," [the third party should do as follows]. If [the daughter] has reached the age of majority and has married, she is granted this prerogative.26 If she is [past majority, but merely] consecrated, the third party should follow the instructions he was given.27 And if she is a minor, even if she is already married, her request is not heeded.28 Instead, the third party should carry out her father's instructions.29

יד

מִי שֶׁצִּוָּה לָתֵת לְבִתּוֹ כָּךְ וְכָךְ מָעוֹת לְפַרְנָסָתָהּ לִקַּח בָּהֶן קַרְקַע בֵּין שֶׁהָיָה שְׁכִיב מֵרַע בֵּין שֶׁהָיָה בָּרִיא וּמֵת וַהֲרֵי הַמָּעוֹת בְּיַד הַשָּׁלִישׁ וְאָמְרָה הַבַּת תְּנוּ אוֹתָם לְבַעְלִי כָּל מַה שֶּׁיִּרְצֶה יַעֲשֶׂה בָּהֶן. אִם הָיְתָה גְּדוֹלָה וְנִשֵּׂאת הָרְשׁוּת בְּיָדָהּ. וְאִם עֲדַיִן מְאֹרֶסֶת הִיא יַעֲשֶׂה שָׁלִישׁ מַה שֶּׁהֻשְׁלַשׁ בְּיָדוֹ. וְאִם עֲדַיִן קְטַנָּה הִיא אֲפִלּוּ נִשֵּׂאת אֵין שׁוֹמְעִין לָהּ אֶלָּא יַעֲשֶׂה הַשָּׁלִישׁ כְּמוֹ שֶׁצִּוָּה הָאָב:

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Footnotes
1.

Ketubot 52b states that an allusion to this concept can be found in Jeremiah 29:6: "Give your daughters to men." "Is it possible for a father to initiate marriage proceedings?" our Sages ask. And they explain that the intent of the verse is that a man should provide his daughter with a dowry attractive enough for a man to desire her.

2.

I.e., 50 zuz, as stated in Chapter 13, Halachah 1.

3.

From the Rambam's wording, it appears that one tenth is the average, but that if a man is known to be generous, his daughter may be given more than a tenth. The Ramah (Even HaEzer 113:1) mentions the opinion of certain authorities who maintain that a girl should never be given more than a tenth of the estate, but states that the common practice is not to follow this view.

4.

The dowry is given to the daughter only when she prepares to marry, not beforehand. Nevertheless, she is given a tenth of the value of the estate at the time of her father's death, regardless of its present value (Maggid Mishneh; Ramah, Even HaEzer 113:4).

5.

I.e., even according to the Sages who ordained that the payment of the money due a woman by virtue of her ketubah may come from movable property (Chapter 16, Halachah 8), the payment of the dowry is from landed property alone. Note, however, the opinion of Tosafot (Ketubot 51a), who differ and maintain that this allotment may also be collected from movable property.

6.

Based on the wording of Halachah 12, the Maggid Mishneh states that the Rambam's opinion is that the movable property in the estate is not included in the calculation of the size of the estate on which the amount of the dowry is based. Rav Moshe HaCohen and Rabbenu Asher differ, emphasizing that although the dowry allotment is not collected from movable property, the movable property is included in this appraisal. Both authorities agree, however, that if an assessment is made of the amount that the father would have given his daughter, that assessment includes the movable property in the estate.

7.

This refers to rent due the father for landed property that was uncollected at the time of his death. The Ramah (loc. cit.) states that if the heirs have already collected the rental fee, they are not obligated to give it to their sister.

8.

That she has not received any of the estate.

9.

Hilchot Malveh V'Loveh 14:1, 19:1.

10.

The rationale is that it is known that a girl is entitled to receive a dowry, and the purchasers of the property of the estate should have taken precautions before buying the property.

11.

Hilchot Malveh V'Loveh 18:1.

12.

Ketubot 69a explains that the rationale for this ruling is that the daughter has received a far larger portion of the estate than she could have hoped for.

13.

The Rambam's opinion is quoted by the Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 113:8). The Ramah quotes the opinion of Rabbenu Asher, who maintains that the second daughter is given her dowry and then the estate is divided.

14.

The provisions of the ketubah - e.g., the support of the daughters - become binding at the time of the marriage, and the man's statements have no effect regarding them (Chapter 19, Halachah 13). The dowry, by contrast, is a gift that we assume a man would make. Therefore if he explicitly states that he does not desire that it be made, his wishes are heeded.

15.

Chapter 19, Halachah 21.

16.

The Chelkat Mechokek 113:17 and the Beit Shmuel 113:16 state that the same ruling applies with regard to the daughters. I.e., if there are older daughters who wish to collect their dowry and marry, and younger daughters who still have to receive support from the estate, the younger daughters are entitled to object to the property's being given to their sisters. The rationale is that the support for the widow and for the daughters is considered to be a debt owed by the estate, while their dowry is considered to be a debt owed by the heirs.

17.

Once the widow has remarried or received payment for her ketubah, the daughter is entitled to inherit the tenth of the estate that should have been given to her. Even when she has already married, her brothers are required to give her these funds from the remainder of the estate.

18.

At times a woman's husband is considered to be a purchaser of the property he inherits from his wife, and at times an heir. If he were considered to be a purchaser, he would be entitled to take possession of the dowry due his wife, for a widow is not entitled to collect her support from property that has been sold. Nevertheless, in this instance, out of consideration for the widow, our Sages considered him like an heir, and thus enabled the widow to continue receiving her sustenance (Bava Batra 139b).

19.

The Maggid Mishneh cites this phrase as proof that the tenth of the estate set aside as a dowry is expropriated from landed property alone.

20.

See the following halachah.

21.

And thus the fact that she did not object at the time of the marriage is not significant. The Maggid Mishneh adds that even if the girl did not object immediately at the time she reached majority, she is entitled to object afterwards. This decision is quoted by the Ramah (Even HaEzer 113:7).

22.

Rabbenu Asher writes that a girl who reached the age of bagrut in her father's lifetime is not entitled to a dowry from her brothers. The later Ashkenazic authorities (see Beit Shmuel 113:19) state, however, that this ruling is not applied.

23.

Chapter 19, Halachah 10.

24.

Hence, she is ashamed to come to them with this request (Ketubot 68b).

25.

Implied is that once a bogeret marries without demanding her dowry, she has forfeited it even though her brothers continue to provide her with her sustenance (Maggid Mishneh). In his Kessef Mishneh, Rav Yosef Karo writes that if the brothers of a na'arah continue to provide her with her sustenance after marriage, she does not forfeit her dowry, even if she does not protest. Although his wording in the Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 113:7) is slightly problematic, the later authorities explain that this is his intent. A source for both the statements of the Maggid Mishneh and the Kessef Mishneh can be seen in the Rambam's Commentary on the Mishnah (Ketubot 6:6).

26.

We assume that the father's intent was that the money should be entrusted to a third party only until after her marriage (Rashi, Ketubot 69b).

27.

For it is a mitzvah to carry out the directives of a person who dies, even if he was healthy at the time he gave these directives (Hilchot Zechiyah UMatanah 4:5).

28.

We assume that the father's intent was to safeguard his daughter and her husband against wasting the funds intended for them.

29.

The Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 54:1) quotes the Rambam's ruling. The Ramah refers to this ruling in Choshen HaMishpat 252:2, which states that this applies only if the funds were specifically entrusted to the third party for this purpose by the deceased at the time he made this statement. If they came into his possession afterwards, the concept that it is a mitzvah to carry out the directives of a person who dies does not apply.

The Mishneh Torah was the Rambam's (Rabbi Moses ben Maimon) magnum opus, a work spanning hundreds of chapters and describing all of the laws mentioned in the Torah. To this day it is the only work that details all of Jewish observance, including those laws which are only applicable when the Holy Temple is in place. Participating in one of the annual study cycles of these laws (3 chapters/day, 1 chapter/day, or Sefer Hamitzvot) is a way we can play a small but essential part in rebuilding the final Temple.
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