A Chossid Durch Und Durch
A Chossid Durch Und Durch | Oro shel yoseph > Commemoration > Yossie, My Best Friend 22

Oro shel yoseph > Commemoration > Yossie, My Best Friend > A Chossid Durch Und Durch

A Chossid Durch Und Durch

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Davening Mincha next to Yossie was a lesson in Yirat Shomayim.
Being at the Ohel with Yossie, was a lesson in Hitkashrut
Listening to his Kiddush on Shabbat was a lesson in Chinuch.
Hearing his havdalah on Motzoei Shabbat, and his "a gutter voch" to his wife and children was a lesson in love and family devotion.
With awe and love and tremendous yearning, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Hecht shares stories about Yossie. The two Yossies met as young boys in 770, and over the years their friendship became stronger and stronger. Even when Rabbi Hecht went on Shlichus to South Africa, they continued to meet and visit each other, there and in Israel and to celebrate family Smachot together.
As often happens with close friendships, the Hecht children were also very close to Rabbi Raichik and when he died, they called their father to comfort and cry with him. "They each recalled his visits to South Africa, his gifts, his coming to our family simchas, spending Shabbat in his house (first) in Tel Aviv, and (then in) Kfar Chabad, and how he always made them feel as part of his family."
 Not Good, Superb
Rabbi Hecht's voice chokes when he speaks of his good friend. "Nowadays," he says, "there are many different Shlichuyot in spreading Judaism and Chassidut. One can teach Torah or work within the community on social upliftment. But precious few actually work in saving lives. Yossie was one of those elite few."
"As a young Yeshivah bochur, he helped save the lives of many hundreds of Iranian Jewish children. He looked after their every need, cared for and nurtured them. Later on he was to spearhead Chabad's effort to save the Children of Chernobyl, to which he dedicated and gave his life. And all this", he adds, "side by side with all the other smaller and daily 'life saving assignments'.
"Yet he found time to build relationships with people and communities, to council and assist. He felt it his z'chut and mitzvah to write a Torah for the Ramoh shul in Cracow. He felt it his z'chut and mitzvah to create an organization to look after victims of terror in Israel. He felt it his z'chut and mitzvah to organize a yearly pilgrimage to the holy gravesites in Russia and Ukraine before the High Holy days. And the list goes on and on. In his work and in his relationship with people, he was never one to settle for half measures. The minimum was never good enough. He always tried – and usually succeeded – in achieving the maximum."
He recalls an episode on the Friday night of his own Sheva Brochot, after the Seudot Shabbat. "We were walking down Golders Green Road, and Yossie, who was in good spirits, had his hand around the shoulder of a fellow he had just met at the meal. "You must put on Tefilln every day," Yossie was pleading.
"But I do," the fellow answered.
"Well then you must start putting on Rabeinu Tam's!" was the immediate response.
Hecht tries to condense into a few sentences an exceptional person whom he knew for so many years. "Yossie was a fountain of energy, of love and of kindness. Yossie never wished you a good day, always, 'Have a great day.' And he meant it with all his heart and soul. His B'rachot for Rosh Hashanah were sincere, deliberate and very magnanimous. Always showering you with blessings and prayers for your spiritual well-being and even more so for Parnosoh, Nachas and material abundance. I always had the feeling that I was receiving a Brocha from a "gutter Yid ". And I am convinced that I was not too far off the mark "
"He was "tocho lo k'baro". His "inside", his substance, was far greater and deeper than his "outside", his demeanor, revealed. He was a truly Chassidisher yungerman.   Yossie lived the dream of Yaakov Avinu, his feet were planted firmly on earth but his mind, heart and soul soared to the heavens."
Hecht also knew his friend's personality at work, "He was a natural, he had flair, and lots of style.
The Mishnah in Avot (2, 2) encourages communal servants to do their work for the sake of Heaven, for then they will be aided by the merit of their parents. Yossie worked L'shem Shomayim, and no doubt merited from Z'chut Avot, of our holy Rabbeim as well as his own forbearers. All of which added to his phenomenal success. Yet, as the Mishnah concludes; the credit is his alone and Tzidkoso Omedes Lo-ad," concluded Rabbi Hecht.
 "A Mix of Wonder Boy and Wise Leader"
Sam and Rozzie Malamud, a Chabad family from Crown Heights stood by Rabbi Raichik when he was involved with the refugees from Iran, and are very close friends of the family.
"Yossie was considered by many to be a 'mix of wonder boy and wise leader," says Rozzie. "He was always on the giving end, never thinking it was such a big deal. It was part of the very fabric that made up Yossie Raichik. He inspired people to be better, to do better and never have limits. His kindness to one and all everyday of his life was extended in a very normal everyday way. He was a friend to everyone not just in lip service but also in deeds. Somehow he found time to help everyone try to solve difficult problems. He was on call 24/7.
Yossie went to Shul for Shachris, coming home at noon with a bunch of people and a bunch of bagels, each one had a problem that needed to be heard. Everyone had a secret to share and advice that was needed. He gave everyone his all – leaving no time for himself."
And with all this, Rozzie points out, as a person who was very close to his family. Yossie was a devoted husband and a wonderful father, very close to each of his nine siblings. Above all, he was a true Chosid of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, connected to him with every bone in his body.
"Each one of my children looked up to him and admired him," she continues. During the summer months, Rozzie's daughter and son-in-law went as Shluchim to the Hamptons, where many Jewish families go for their summer holidays, but mainly for the weekends. "A few weeks before his passing, my daughter convinced him to join her and her husband in the Hamptons for Shabbos. He was always too busy to take off 2 days to join them, but he was feeling a little under the weather and decided to go."
"But then, Yossie is Yossie," sighed Malamud with acceptance, "Instead of resting, he febrenged with the members of the shul who would not let him sleep. They drank up all his words of Torah and enjoyed his wonderful humor and spirit. They begged him to return."
He was often a visitor in their home, and Shabbatot were characterized by singing into the early hours of the morning. Sam: "Particularly I remember his unique manner and efforts in bring understanding and peace whether between man and his friend, or man and his wife. One Shabbat as my wife served the cholent, I told her very discreetly that salt was missing. The next Shabbat, the cholent was so salty – too salty to eat… and just that particular Shabbat Yossie was with us, and in order to not embarrass him, I mentioned this to Yossie very quietly. He pulled a face as though he did not know what I was talking about, and asked for more and more cholent, complimenting my wife on how tasty it was!"
"There is so much to tell about him," agrees Rozzie and she also chooses a small but significant example of Yossie's thoughtfulness. "Most people who stay with us, when they finish a bottle of milk, or juice etc. return the bottle to the fridge without even considering the question of what to do with the empty container…Yossie never ever did this. Not only did he throw the empty carton in the garbage, he also went to the store and replaced it with an amount enough for a month."
As very good friends, the Malamuds gave Rabbi Raichik a key to their home where he also had his own room that was kept for his visits. "Sometimes Yossie would pop into our house unexpectedly; when I saw my housekeeper smiling I knew Yossie was back!!! He just had that affect on everyone. Even in sad times he always had a ray of hope. He always looked at life as the cup half full – never – half empty."
Even those who did not really know him were inspired. "It took just one look at his face to recognize what a warm, sincere Chossid Yossie was," recalls Rabbi Chaim Kosofsky, a Shaliach in Springfield, Massachusetts. On his first visit to Israel many years ago, at the offices of Tzach in Kfar Chabad, he did not know Raichik which did not deter Rabbi Raichik from taking an interest in his trip and making him feel welcome, giving him a recently published English booklet of personal reflections on Yiddishkeit.
"Later, I was fortunate to spend Shabbos with Yossie at a Raichik simcha," he continues. "I was impressed by his humor, his concern for others, and his sense of calmness. I noticed the respect he showed for people regardless of age. A person with outstanding traits."
Michael, a young Chabadnik who lived in Kfar Chabad did not know Rabbi Raichik personally, "I often used to see him at the train station in Kfar Chabad, or Lod, or the main bus station in Tel Aviv," he tells us. "He always gave me a warm smile and asked how I was, without even knowing who I was. He just saw someone with a Chabad appearance and gave me the feeling that we were old friends. An inspiring welcoming feeling."
Rabbi Yossie Lew, a Chabad Shaliach in Atlanta, has memories of Yossie Raichik as far back as Rabbi Yossie Hecht's wedding in England. Rabbi Lew, then a young boy of 11, remembers how already then he was impressed by the smiling and energetic Chossid. As he got to know him more his admiration grew.
"He was one of the few people in this world that I would have dropped anything I had just to help him. Yossie was in Atlanta a couple of times over the past 3-4 years, and I was hoping to be able to do a favor for him. While I was with him, I begged him to allow me to take him around. On both occasions I asked him to please come into my house so that my children could see a real Shliach and Chossid. Much to his amusement, he agreed, and left a Brochoh in my house and to my children."
We hear about the personality of the Chossid, from the point of view of someone who is not a Chossid. Yisrael (Rolly) Sharon, knew the Raichik family in his youth, when they were living in Tel Aviv. When he married and moved to Jerusalem, he became more appreciative of the congregation he grew up in.
"Of all the good qualities of Tel Aviv, theharmony is what was so special," he writes. "The harmony of Jews."
"In the Tel Aviv shul, groups of people come together to pray—there are enough people to divide into smaller shuls and batei midrash in other places. Everyone keeps their own customs, siddurim and sefarim and at the same time everyone prays together in harmony.
If this is how it is during the year, how much more so on Simchat Torah – a time when all barriers between man and man fall and everyone is happy together."
And here Rabbi Raichik enters the picture:
"A real chossid amongst us, at the very heart of this unity." Among the childhood memories and images, the unforgettable picture of Yossie crops up. Yossie dancing and singing, his entire being happy in Simhat Torah in Tel Aviv. His eyes are closed and with all his strength he pounds on the Bima singing a Chabad niggun: Al HaSela Hach Hach…Ve Yatzu Mayim…and the entire community is with him."
"Two of his many qualities are etched in my memory: strength and chen (grace). Authentic Chassidic behavior suffused with the Chassidism of days gone by, alongside an unusual radiance that even we children, in our innocence, sensed with all our hearts. Yossie's radiance was not something external but stemmed from deep in the heart of a servant of Hashem who keeps the Torah of his forefathers and Rabbeim with all his being."
"The light of the image of G-d in man does not fade from the world," concludes Rolly. 'The light of G-d is the soul of man'—his inner being is eternal, and exists forever in his good deeds and through his generations."
 The Chossid Connects with the Almighty
Rabbi Raichik and a good friend were davening at the grave of the Tzaddik Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. The friend had finished saying his Tehillim, and Raichik was still davening in dvekut for all the names on his list when someone comes over and asks with great respect, "Who is this Tzaddik?"
The friend looks around, not understanding, and the person points to Raichik. "This, this Tzaddik," he whispers.
 "Why do you think he is a Tzaddik?" his friend asks with a smile, surprised, and the person answers: "Can't you see how he is praying?"
Among the many facts and statements, from his friends all over the world, and among the many amazing personal characteristics, one was prominent: the davening – the praying of Rabbi Raichik, the fact that he was a member of the community, not a famous rabbi, or well-known mashpia.
"Where is his spark from?" appears on ynet. "He is not a person who stays in shul all day, he works in fundraising and public relations. When I saw him davening in the shul in Kfar Chabad, deeply concentrated in his siddur, enthusiastic and oblivious of his surroundings, I turned to my father-in-law and said, "That is the davenning of a Chossid.""
Dinah Raichik, Yossie's wife, tells of pre-davening preparations. "The week before he was hospitalized," she remembers, "I left the house early in the morning, and when I returned a little later, Yossie was wearing his oxygen mask."
"I was rather shocked, as he had never used it at home before. 'What happened?' I asked, in concern. Yossie answered calmly, that he was starting to daven soon, and to really concentrate and put effort into the words he needs a good supply of oxygen."
Rabbi Yishayahu Werner, director of Chabad House in Oak Park near Chicago, tells how he always met Rabbi Raichik in New York – at 770, and later at Ohel HaKadosh. Rabbi Werner remembers his smile and kind words, and that he told Yossie that his davening had been a great influence.
"He would daven every word inside the Siddur, audibly, which inspired me to want to do the same, at least to be careful about the words of davening."
Another Shaliach, Rabbi Sholom Ciment, from Chabad House in Winton, Florida tells of "the greatest Zechus that befell him" to daven near Rabbi Raichik on the High Holidays in 770 for many years…I will never forget Yossie's Teffilos on Yomim Noroim. Firstly it was like davening next to one of the elderly chassidim and mashpiim but synthesized with not wanting to miss one motion of the Rebbe throughout the teffilos, especially of course during Tekios".
"There is no doubt," he adds, "that Yossie accomplished more in his 55 years than most accomplish in 10 lifetimes. A true chosid, a true onov, a true ish emes, a huge, huge loss."
Rabbi David Sabol is forever grateful for having seen Yossie daven:
"In the mid-seventies I was in yeshiva in Kfar Chabad and wasn't very happy. One afternoon in walked Yossie out of the blue. A simcha in shtut! I don't remember if he was on his way to a shlichus or returning from one. As we talked he saw I wasn't happy and in an effort to cheer me up suggested, "Let's get away for a while. We'll go out to Yerushalayim for lunch tomorrow and go to the Kosel!" I agreed and we set a date.
Next day I was waiting for Yossie who, kidarko bakodesh, was running late. I thought perhaps he forgot about our lunch. Mind you, this was in the days before cell phones, when even regular phones were hard to come by at Kfar Chabad. Finally he arrived, apologized for being late, and said, "Before we go there is just one thing. I have to daven." I took him to my room…I was on "shpilkes," waiting for our trip but I read while I waited. Yossie slowly said Korbonos, put on Tefilln and davened word for word out loud as if no one else was in the room. It was just him and his Creator. Then he said Tehillim. That davening must have taken well over an hour.
At first I was upset that he took so long, but as the minutes ticked by I couldn't help but be filled with admiration for Yossie. I found myself inspired, wishing that I could daven like that. I still wish I could daven like that! I don't remember going to Yerushalayim. If we did go, it certainly wasn't for lunch - perhaps dinner. That was Yossie."
 Yossie's Recipe
A good friend from Argentina remembers feeling stuck in his life:
"Things weren't going as I wished or planned. I was frustrated and most importantly, did not know what to do. I met Yossie, my good friend, and shared my concerns. I told him everything that I wanted to do but that I didn't know where to begin. He gave me the best advice I have ever received…
"He told me quite simply to make a list of all my goals for the year and to take that list to shul before Kol Nidrei on Erev Yom Kippur, and daven for every item. Yossie explained that this is how to approach Hashem – to be clear and precise, to know exactly what you are davening for."
The storyteller, a very successful businessman, loved the idea and named it, "Yossie's recipe."
Erev Yom Kippur he brought the list to shul, and even asked for the honor of holding the Sefer Torah as Yossie had suggested. Holding the Sefer Torah and also holding the small page, he closed his eyes, and calmly reviewed the entire list. "It was so great to be exact and clear, to know what you are davening for. I felt that I knew where I was going."
He has been using "Yossie's recipe" for 11 years. His first list was very basic, but with time became more comprehensive. Today, he maintains, he spends two entire days making sure that it is as complete and exact as possible. "I even compare the list with lists of previous years, which not only enables me to understand and prepare better, but also allows me to thank the Almighty for what I was successful in and achieved in the past.
"If I had to condense into a few words what I learned from Yossie, I would say: Achieving something is not enough if you cannot recognize it. You must learn to recognize your aims and be able to appreciate what you have gained."
"The next Kol Nidrei is the 12th since I started a tradition given to me by Yossie. On that night for the rest of my life, there will be some small part of Yossie with me.
Rabbi Raichik's unique approach to davening was also expressed by Bob Book, a very close friend. Although a rabbi's son, Bob did not attend shul regularly. He told Yossie it was because "I had enough growing up being the 'son of'". Rabbi Raichik did not pressure him and only responded with "words of encouragement and understanding."
"One day he contacted me with a solution," smiles the New York businessman. "Let us start a virtual Shul together" he suggested, "skip the davening and go right for the Kiddush…And the saying of 'L'chaim'… Truly Yossie at his best! "
His smile vanishes as he adds a painful note. "My father passed away suddenly when he was only sixty-two. I have lost other close relatives, including my grandparents, uncle, father-in-law and mother-in-law. I have made many trips to Israel during various conflicts and have gone to the war zones to support the soldiers, and sadly have witnessed many brave young Jewish men die 'Al Kiddush Hashem' .
"But with all these losses, I have never grieved so much, or ever felt such a loss as my dear beloved Yossie. I loved and admired him from the depths of my soul. I could call him to talk about anything, and believe me I mean anything." He continues, "and because he was in fact a regular guy and not a great Torah scholar, he succeeded in touching me and my family in his special manner. "
Members of the Chabad House shul in Manhattan also remember Rabbi Raichik. "He came regularly – ever since we established the Chabad House in 1996," reports Rabbi Yehoshua Metzger, the Shaliach and Director of the Chabad House. "He took an active part in the Chassidishe discussions and davening. Each time he came to New York he spent many hours and left great impressions.
"One time he noticed that most of the men did not remain to recite the Tehillim of the day but rushed off to work. His pleading was of no avail. He suggested that we ask them to stay and recite just one chapter of Tehillim, and that worked."
Since then, after Kaddish, everyone recites the chapter together. "Thousands of chapters of Tehillim have been recited in the Zechus of Rabbi Raichik," reports Rabbi Metzger, and continues, "The last few years, he learned with the young men in the kollel, devoting many hours to influencing them. At the end of the year, they go on Shlichus and I have no doubt that their spiritual and Chassidishe knowledge is in the Zechus of Rabbi Raichik."
 Lamplighter for the Perplexed
Australian businessman, Eliezer Kornhauzer, credits Rabbi Raichik with his Chassidic learning but also with his return to a life of Torah and mitzvot. Mr. Kornhauzer, a good friend and supporter of the Children of Chernobyl, was a 30-year-old single when he first met Rabbi Raichik.
"I came to Israel in honor of the Bar Mitzvah of my nephew," he reminisces on his first contact with Yossie. "My sister and brother-in-law were undecided as to where to make the Bar Mitzvah – in the Orthodox or Reform shul, and as a compromise…decided on the Kotel. Through their association with the director of the Beis Chabad in Melbourne, Australia, Rabbi Shimshon Yurkowicz, my sister approached him to assist them with the necessary arrangements and Rabbi Yurkowicz therefore approached Rabbi Raichik."
"At that time I was 'against' anything and everything connected to Yiddishkeit," Eliezer relates. "I came to the celebration at the Kotel, very cynical. When someone asked me to put on Tefillin, I agreed, the first time since my own Bar Mitzvah. I don't know why I was so overcome and emotional, but I started to cry…besides this I did nothing else. A short while later I forgot all about this incident."
"Then we continued to the party which was to take place in a small hall nearby. Yossie came there, as requested by the Shaliach in Melbourne, 'to make it freilich and happy', and he definitely did not disappoint us. He arranged a great party, Chassidic, inspiring and dynamic. Before I left he invited me to come and visit him in Kfar Chabad."
"Must I go?" I asked my mother, complaining. 'It is not polite – you were invited,' she replied, offering to drive me. 'Don't switch off the engine, I am coming back immediately,' I told her, getting out of the car in Kfar Chabad."
Eliezer laughs: "I did come back – five hours later…during which time I sat with Yossie, chatting. At that time I was very perturbed about my personal identification, satisfaction and realization, finding myself, freedom, boundaries etc., 'If you want to arrive at personal fulfillment,' Yossie said, 'you have to start putting on Tefillin'"
"In reply,I attacked: 'I grew up next to a yeshiva and shul, which I attended because my father insisted,' I told him. "I got to know the people. They all put Tefillin on but their behavior was far from positive! I see no connection between this mitzvah and personal fulfillment.'"
"Yossie was not startled or alarmed, and answered simply: Imagine how negative their behavior would be if these people did not put on Tefillin each morning.
"This gave me pause," Eliezer acknowledges, "and after a few months I started, slowly, on the long road to getting closer to a life of Torah and mitzvot.
Yossie and Eliezer kept in contact, conversed by phone, and occasionally met in Israel or in Australia. Today Eliezer and Luba Korenhauzer maintain a true Chassidishe home, in contact with Chabad activities worldwide, including the virtual school for the children of the Shluchim.
"I receive many hundreds of visitors each year, and requests in other forms, asking for financial assistance…I understand that the Almighty has bestowed upon my family and me the unique privilege of being able to help other people, especially Jews, in this way," continues Kornhauser. "In 99.9% of the cases, I don't mind that people often resort to relationships for the purposes of generating a better donation. In some instances, however, mixing friendship and money has proven to be difficult for me. Yossie was one such case for reasons that I don't even understand. Because he was the first person to stoke my interest in a more religious lifestyle. I guess a special bond was established, even though our communications over the years were infrequent.
When I was last in New York, about four and a half years ago, Yossie was also there and made several attempts to meet me. I felt disappointed – we hadn't seen each other for a number of years, and the motivation for meeting seemed more about money than friendship. As I said, this rarely bothers me, but it did, and when we met I mentioned it…and was quite emotional. Yossie told me that for his Bris, his father received a letter from the Rebbe which specifically referred to the Hasidic aphorism – when a person sowed in spiritual endeavors, he would reap material rewards. We both understood that this meant Yossie should concentrate on the spiritual dimension of our relationship, and not on the monetary aspect.
Yossie explained that when he is fundraising as a Shaliach for the Rebbe and for his objectives, he invests in "spiritual sowing" – creating firm and strong relationships through which he can bring people closer to Yiddishkeit
Yossie's answer, Eliezer Kornhauzer says, was so on the mark that it dispelled any uneasiness. For many months after this conversation, he adds, Yossie kept in regular contact which had a big impact.
"On re-telling, the story sounds a bit flat and uninspiring, but I can assure you that my original meeting with him was a significant turning point in my life. Did he do something remarkable? No, but the Almighty has many shluchim as the saying goes, and good things happen through good people."
The dual position of the Rebbe's Shluchim appears in many stories about Yossie told by businessmen, philanthropists and financial supporters. Instead of discussing money, they discuss their "spiritual sowing' thanks to Yossie: a good deed they undertake, their return to a life of Torah and mitzvot, their becoming "a better person' and a 'more devoted Jew.'
Scott Book from New York, the son of close friend Bob Book, describes a deep, firm and warm bond that he developed with Rabbi Raichik in a very short period of time: "And I know that there are many more who felt exactly like me."
When he met Yossie, he was dating a girl who wasn't Jewish. This caused major family issues, so much so that Scott and his parents were barely on speaking terms. "My parents and I have always been very close so when all of this was going on it was heartbreaking for me and them. At that point they asked Yossie to get involved. They thought they were losing their son and I thought I was losing my parents.
Yossie called me and asked me to go to lunch with him. I agreed, at that lunch we talked about a lot of different things; religion, relationships, my parents, my brothers, his family, his experiences etc. We laughed and we cried. He told me what was going on with my parents and I told him where I was with everything in my life. From that point on we got together every time Yossie was in New York. That went on for over a year. Every time he was there and his schedule was jammed he still always made time. We didn't agree all of the time, but he never judged me, he only guided me.
At this time in my life Yossie was probably the best friend that I had. In the end I came to my senses (with a lot of help from Yossie) and this woman and I parted ways. Shortly after that I began to date a Jewish girl and on September 6th 2009 Jayme and I will be getting married. Yossie was going to officiate our wedding; it truly will not be the same without him. That being said I know his presence will be all around us that night.
Another great memory I have of Yossie is when he met my fiancée. They met at my apartment when Yossie came by to put up our Mezuzah. We had a wonderful time which included many L'chaims. His face lit up when he met her, and I could see in his eyes that he was so happy for me, for her and for my family. He never gave up on me and he truly believed in me. I miss him every day. His spirit and enthusiasm will never be duplicated. His smile always lit up the room. I feel honored that he and I became friends."
 Defender of the Jewish people
George Choresh also met Rabbi Raichik during his "anti-period"—anti-religion, anti- officialdom, anti-everything.
"Many years ago I was working for a tourist operator bringing tourists to Kfar Chabad on a regular basis, showing them how Chassidim work in bringing one closer to Yiddishkeit, the replica of the Lubavitcher Rebbe's headquarters (770) and more."
"During one of these visits, we met Yossie Raichik who was with a group of children and holding a tray of Homon Tashen (small poppy seed cakes). I assume that this happened just before Purim. And I, "says Choresh, "cynicism was always my best weapon, asked mockingly, 'Hey there, are those kosher?' The Chabad counselor looked at me, quite shocked. Yossie smiled and said, 'Look what a good Jew he is, making sure that these Homon Tashen are Kosher.' Within a second all my malice melted, and to be honest – he won me over."
He writes about their friendship which intensified after he started working with Jewish tourists from Miami. "Every time I called him with a question, he did all he could for me. I discovered a man with an enormous soul who worked endlessly for the sake of others."
Perhaps Yossie's influence on the non-observant was so strong because he never argued, or pressured or tried to prove a point. He spoke amicably and set a personal example.
"I met Yossie when he visited Buenos Aries in the 1990s on a fundraising mission for Children of Chernobyl," recollects Mr. Cesar Wengrover, a good friend and supporter. "He came to make an appeal but truth is," he laughs quietly, "Yossie enabled us to help him. That is what he made us feel, and we were forever grateful.
In that period, Cesar describes himself as being "traditional". He wanted to strengthen his life in Yiddishkeit with Torah and mitzvot, however his wife wanted to move at a slower pace. Yossie was asked to help.
"This happens quite often in Baalei Teshuva families," Cesar observes. "One spouse wants to race forward while the other spouse wants to continue more slowly. Unfortunately this led to many arguments and we decided to ask Yossie's advice. I was sure," he confesses, "that he would be on my side, as I was interested in keeping Shabbos fully and koshering our home. However, Yossie surprised us both completely.
He explained the degrees of keeping kosher, first he told us to stop eating non-kosher, and then to start separating milk and meat, and so forth. He advised us to work on this together. Shalom Bayis, a happy atmosphere in the home, is of utmost importance. Over and above everything is the importance of contentment and happiness…I have never known such a person. A great rabbi, an amazing person, and a good Jew."
"When my mother died," another person tells us, "Rabbi Raichik came to comfort us My brother had not met him beforehand, but they spoke as though they were the oldest of friends. Unfortunately, my brother," she sighs, "does not keep Torah and mitzvot at the moment. For some reason no one had tried to talk to him about saying kaddish for our dear mother, of blessed memory. No one, except Rabbi Raichik.
He sat for a whole hour, impressing on him its importance. No one asked him to do this," she tells us emotionally. "He just came in, realized the situation, explained and helped as much as he could."
 101 North Edinbourgh
"All the wonderful characteristics of Rabbi Raichik stemmed from his good heart," summarizes Harav Shmuel Dov Rosenberg from Petach Tikva, who knew him through his wife, a childhood friend of Mrs. Dinah Raichik.
"His pure heart was imprinted with 'good for the Almighty, good for His creations'; his friendliness attracted strangers, personal friends and admirers. He was gifted with the knack of being able to approach people, and of saying the right thing at the right time. From Rabbi Raichik I learned that to disagree, one has to know how – with warmth and caring and never with friction."
Rabbi Rosenberg compares Rabbi Yossie Raichik to Yosef the Tzaddik:
"In Chassidus, Yosef the Tzaddik is compared with his brothers; whereas Yosef the Tzaddik was able to withstand the pressures of the outside world even in the defilement of Egypt, his brothers were unable to, and became shepherds in order to distance themselves from the temptations of the material world.
Rabbi Raichik traveled the world and spent much time in outlandish places, sometimes totally removed from anything Jewish. He was able to influence, bringing light to the darkest place, the light of the Torah. He took the greatness and characteristics of Yosef the Tzaddik, and could convey them to those around him.
Yossie's Chassidshe traits were steadfast and reliable as the light of the Torah, complementing his sweetness and pleasantness in a way of 'and the light was sweet'.
"The sweetness of the living Torah that he absorbed from childhood enabled him to transmit the warmth and lightof the Torah, to influence many, breaking down barriers to reach people. Thank you our dear and beloved friend, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Raichik," writes Rabbi Rosenberg, "for showing us the light of the Torah."
Rabbi Yosef Kessler from Montreal knew Yossie's family from childhood and then in 770 he became aware of Yossie's joyous nature:
"Yossie wanted to come across as a worldly bochur. He did not wish to appear as PNIMI at all. To us younger guys he succeeded in giving that impression. One day, he not so willingly shared a letter that he had written to the Rebbe. Till today I can't figure out why he showed me the letter…for a Bochur to write such a letter, he must be a PNIMI like from the days of old".
Rabbi Kessler goes back many years:
"The Raichik family were there for a couple of my Bochurishe years. First in 749 we shared an apartment together; my room was adjacent to theirs. Second, I was Zocheh to have Rabbi Shmuel Dovid as a Mashpia in 5738 when we were sent as the 1st group of Shluchim to Ohr Elchonon Chabad. In LA we were regulars at the Raichiks, getting to know the outstanding Chasiddishe warmth that permeated the entire house. I hope, for the benefit of our children and grandchildren, that I can describe properly the Raichik house on 101 N. Edinbourgh.
I came to study in 770 in 5734 – that year I think was the last of the Yeshiva programs so readily available for Bochurim, which benefited both the Yeshiva and the Bochurim. Yossie was one of the Bochurim acting as liaison between the Hanholo and the Bochurim. I was then a GREENER didn't know much about all of that. Yossie approached me, he didn't need me for the program, he had plenty of others and he didn't know me yet, however, upon hearing that I am a Bochur who can use a extra few dollars he lovingly insisted that I join and helped me step by step."
"Ahavas Yisroel"- love of one's fellow man—writers, storytellers and those reminiscing all mention Yossie's unshakeable love of people. A friend shared this story which dramatically illustrates this great love:
"At one of the Chabad events, there was a large gathering of men. Yossie was also there, sitting with his many friends and acquaintances. The atmosphere was lively, Chassidshe, uplifting. And then something upsetting, unanticipated, occurred.
"Someone entered the hall, turned towards Rabbi Raichik, and yelled and shouted terrible accusations. In the sudden silence, the words of the angry man could be distinctly heard. Everyone was shocked – no one spoke.
"And Yossie," the friend continued, "did not say a word, he remained silent. He did not try to shush this person or claim his innocence, or even argue. He just sat still and swallowed the insults. It was unreal. I was insulted for Yossie. I wanted to yell back, defend him, to say that even when there is criticism, one must know where and when…but for some reason I didn't say anything.
"The next day, I met Yossie in a store, and he brought the matter up: 'I saw that the incident bothered you terribly," and then to my amazement he added, 'Please don't get angry on my behalf….'"
"That's what was important to him," his friend says emotionally. "He did not want me to hold it against this man. That is how much he cared about the other, He had bittul. Before we parted, he whispered with a half-smile, 'By the way, the person who yelled at me – he was not entirely wrong."
Yossie's way of avoiding arguments can be seen in another story as well. In the middle of the beautiful Friday evening prayers welcoming the Sabbath, a heated argument erupted between the daveners. Someone made one claim, the other responded in a louder tone and very soon the yelling and not the davening was rending the heavens.
The writer continue to tell us, "In all the tumult, Rabbi Raichik stood up without fanfare and began the niggun for the psalm for the Sabbath in a soothing, pleasing voice that hushed the noise and calmed the chaos. Everyone relaxed and followed his lead.
Rabbi Yosef Kessler also gave a wonderful example of Rabbi Raichik's Ahavas Yisroel and his ability to understand the other person.
"When I was going out and almost engaged, my future in-laws wanted to meet me. I was to walk over to their house on Motzoei Shabbos. An hour before our meeting there was a notice about a hisvaadus of the Rebbe. I knew the meeting would only take a few minutes but I could not walk back and forth to their house in time for the hisvaadus.
"I raced into Yossie's room; I knew where his set of car keys was. He wasn't in. I took the set of keys and hurried to my meeting.
When I got back, I saw that Yossie was in a panic, looking for his keys. When I gave them back, I noticed that he saw my discomfort – understanding with his amazing personality another person's feeling. He immediately calmed down and acted as though he was just organizing his things. Later I found out that he had an errand for which he needed his car. The next day when we received the Rebbe's blessing and officially announced our engagement, Yossie wished me Mazal Tov with a wide and understanding smile.
His wife Dinah gives another example:
"On my birthday, two years ago, Yossie and I drove to Jerusalem to buy a piece of jewelry for me. I spent over an hour trying on different pieces until I made up my mind and chose a pair of earrings. At home, when I took off my coat, I was shocked to see a bracelet on my wrist that I had apparently forgotten to take off and that clearly had not been paid for!"
"No problem," I told Yossie, "the jewelry store is part of a large chain which has a branch in Tel Aviv. Tomorrow I will go to the Tel Aviv branch, tell them what happened and return the bracelet." Yossie thought differently.
"I am afraid that if you do that, the store owners will realize that you were able to leave the store with jewelry without paying and the saleswoman will get into trouble," Yossie said. "Perhaps we should call the saleswoman in Jerusalem and ask her advice as to the best way to return the bracelet without causing her any harm."
It is easy to imagine the saleswoman's surprise when she heard what happened, and after arrangements were made for returning the bracelet, she very emotionally added, "I do not know how to thank you – there is no doubt that if my employer had found out, I would have lost my job."
"I think," Dinah concluded, "that few people would care about the anonymous salesperson and make the extra effort so as not to jeopardize her position."
 With All His Heart – For One And All
Many years ago, in New York," continues Dinah, remembering stories of Yossie's 'Ahavas Yisroel', "we were on a main but not crowded highway, late at night. We passed a man who looked Jewish who was standing with another man with a motorcycle. Yossie had a gut feeling that the Jew was in trouble and without hesitating turned around and drove back.
"When we stopped near the two men, Yossie inquired how he could help." "I," Dinah admitted, "was quite afraid. There was no one else around, it was very late, and the motorcyclist did not look too friendly, to say the least. We quickly found out that the Jew was an Israeli who had crashed into the motorcycle, and although there was not a lot of damage, the motorcyclist would not let him go until he had paid for the damage. The Israeli had no money, the two of them were arguing and the non-Jew was losing his patience."
"Yossie did not waste time. He negotiated with the motorcyclist – to pay him and end the matter. This guy did not believe that Yossie and the driver did not know each other, which so moved him that he was prepared to accept the $50 that Yossie had on him, which let the Israeli go on his way."
Dinah recalls another vivid story. When the Raichiks were a "young couple" (Dinah has to smiles at the definition, as she was 26 when she married Yossie of 30), they went out to a restaurant in Tel Aviv. "The restaurant was crowded, so it took a while until we were seated. During the meal, a beggar carrying old bags went to all the tables collecting money. Some people gave him coins, remembers Dinah, but most of the diners made it clear that he was disturbing them and some were quite rude.
"Out of the corner of his eye, Yossie saw that a table had been vacated. He jumped up, went over to the beggar and led him gently to the empty table. After they spoke for a few moments, Yossie went to the cashier, placed the order, paid, and then brought the tray laden with good food to where the beggar was sitting."
His Ahavas Yisroel did not stop there. "After Yossie sat down to dinner, he went over to the beggar, spoke with him, returned to the cashier and back again. When I asked what had happened, he said, 'I forgot to ask him what he would like to drink.'"
"I do not know how much money the beggar collected that evening, but one thing for sure—he did not leave the restaurant hungry."
And more of the tremendous 'Ahavas Yisroel' that Yossie was graced with:
"It was our custom to visit the graves of the Tzadikkim twice a year – on Lag B'Omer to Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai in Meron, and on 5th of Menachem Av, to the Ha'Ari in Tzfat," relates his good friend Rabbi Yitzchak Har Tzvi. "Throughout the trip, Yossie called his friends, 'I am on the way to the grave of the Tzaddik. Should I mention you? What is your mother's name?'
"On the last Lag B'Omer of his life, he was already not feeling well, but wanted to go to Meron. His friends arranged a car permit nearly up to the cave so that he only had to walk a short distance but that too was very difficult. I gave him a hand and we walked slowly, we davened and returned to the waiting car," recalls Har-Tzvi. "He got in, hardly breathing, and sat down. The driver turned on the engine, when suddenly Yossie shouted, 'Stop!' and before we could respond, he had jumped out of the car and ran with unbelievable strength back to the cave."
"He came back a few minutes later, gasping for breath. Only later did we understand what had happened. He took his cell-phone out of his pocket, dialed an international number and spoke: 'I filled your request and lit candles for you at Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai's grave."
"He explained, 'When I sat down, I felt the candles in my back pocket and realized that I had forgotten to fulfill the request of my friend in the States – to light candles for him at the grave. How could I continue?"
Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Wilhelm, Rabbi Raichik's nephew, recalls, "I could speak to him for hours. He never spoke about himself, only asked about the other person. He reached people and advised everyone at their level. He understood people."
One Purim, he accompanied his uncle who read Megillah for someone. "His behavior was a little odd," he tells us. "He asked his host how to pronounce certain words in the Megillah. When we left I asked what was happening—he had read the Megillah so many times that I was sure he knew how to pronounce all the words."
"Yossie explained that he wanted his host to feel that he was also involved and contributing his part to the Megillah reading. More than make an impression, he wanted them to feel good that they were participating."
"Once," adds the nephew, "a group of Shlichim were asked who it was a worthwhile model to imitate. I answered immediately – my Uncle Yossie."
Rabbi Yochanan Gurari, Rabbi of Holon, Israel, remembers a story: "We studied together in our youth at 770. One night we sat learning until late – a boy came in, wandered around the dormitory, exhausted; he had just arrived from another state. He was looking for somewhere to sleep. 'Here,' called Yossie, 'is an empty bed to sleep on'. The boy fell asleep immediately, without knowing that he was sleeping in Yossie's bed. A world of kindness is what he was."
 Men, Women…
Rabbi Nosson Blumes, a former work colleague, recalls: "One Friday morning, we were on our way to a Bar Mitzvah in the King David Hotel. Yossie was driving and all of a sudden he stopped the car, pulled over and said to me, 'Nosson, now I am going to teach you a lesson in life and marriage,' I followed him curious – what kind of life lesson? He went to a store, picked up some readymade food for shabbos and other delicacies, and then came back to the car. I asked, 'What's up?' He said he needed to pick these items up since his wife asked for them. 'It's always better to get this done right away, before you get involved with the event, since you never know how much time you will need with the BB, and your wife will appreciate the food and shopping done much more than excuses why you forgot, ran late or even worse that the store was closed."
His brother, Rabbi Shalom Raichik, adds:
"In our family, Yossie A"H, was always the wise counselor with whom you would share your issues and get sound and practical advice.
A few years ago I was facing what I thought was a major crisis. In a panic and in need of advice I called Yossie in Israel. As he was apt to be, he was busy at the moment with multiple meetings although it was already evening in Israel, and promised to call me back later in the day.
When you dealt with Yossie, a good measure of patience was necessary as he was always juggling multiple issues. At that moment patience was in short supply on my end, but what choice did I have.
Later around 8 pm U.S. time, 2 am in Israel, Yossie called me back and we had an extended conversation for upwards of an hour. As usual his advice was on target and his support was even more so. Getting off the phone, the support that Yossie gave me made me realize that I had to pull myself together and move on as things would ultimately work out.
The next day I again called Yossie and had a follow-up conversation. Only then did I come to find out, that the day before Yossie was not in his office tied up with meetings. He was actually on was of his rare short vacations where he could finally try to put things aside and have some personal time.
When I asked why was it that he said that he had meetings instead of telling me the truth, he answered, 'Had I told you that I was on vacation, you wouldn't have wanted to disturb me. I saw that you needed support and needed to talk, so I told you that I was tied up with meetings.'"
The following is an email that I sent shortly thereafter:
Dear Yossie,
Thank you very much for all of your help in this matter. IY"H it should have positive results. Today is Pesach Sheini, Siiz Nitu Kein Farfalen, and IY"H it should all work out for the best.
On a personal note, as a younger brother to his older brother, I cannot express how I felt this morning when you told me that you were actually on vacation during this whole time. I asked you yesterday to give me some Chizuk. To hear from you today, that you did not want to tell me that you were on vacation, and instead spoke about three meetings etc, because you didn't want me to refuse your help in talking this over, is the biggest Chizuk that you could have given me.
I can understand what it means to you to have an opportunity to get away for a little bit. To spend an hour in middle of the night to deal with my problems, and to help me through it, brings home the point that as family, we can all rely and lean on each other in our personal times of crisis.
Sincerely, your little brother,
Sholom Raichik
 …And Children
Young children, as we mentioned earlier, were also the recipients of Yossie's boundless love and as Gary Finder recollects, "He showed love to everyone with whom he came into contact."
Gary, a good friend from California, tells of his visit to Israel in 2004 for the Bar Mitzvah of his son. The Finder family spent two weeks in Israel and during this time they spent many hours with Rabbi Raichik.
"I will never forget our first Shobbos walking back from the Kotel," he recalls. "On the way back, our younger son who was then only five was tired, cranky and half asleep. Our dear Rabbi Raichik carried the little guy who was no little guy but rather chunky on his back. Not only that but he kept him engaged, entertained him with jokes, kept up his humor and even had a running race with him."
"I will always treasure the time I spent in his company," Gary tells us. "A beloved person, whose smile and love of mankind is planted in my heart. If everyone could just be a Rabbi Yossie Raichik, then clearly Moshiach would be revealed."
Someone from Kfar Chabad adds, "He never knew me. My brother works in Tzach; he also was not in daily contact with Yossie, however---
"One day I needed some help, and I thought of Rabbi Yossie Raichik. I asked my brother to make the connection. He tried, but as usual the line was busy, and he left a message on his voice mail. Truthfully," he acknowledges, "I did not expect a reply. How many people do you know that are so overloaded in work but will return a call from someone anonymous, whose brother left a message on the voice mail?
Friday afternoon, the phone rang. On the line: Rabbi Yossie Raichik, 'How can I help you?' he asked, a smile in his voice. After I managed to stutter my request, apologizing for disturbing, he promised to deal with the matter.
"He kept his word," he continues, thrilled, "in spite of his pressured timetable, and many activities, Rabbi Yossie found the time to help someone he did not know – in a totally personal matter."
Another Friday afternoon story – "a small memory of a great guy" – is told by another Kfar Chabad resident: He recalls walking from his house in the Shikunim area of Kfar Chabad about half an hour before Shabbat in the direction of the mikve.
"It was winter and raining. I looked around for a ride, but to no avail. It rained harder and I tried to run between the drops…"
"And then, Rabbi Yossie Raichik approached, driving towards me. He had just returned from the mikve. When he saw me, he did a U turn, stopped and told me to get in. I said that it was late and I did not want to delay him and have him do the trip again just for me."
"He answered simply, 'It's raining and you are walking. I have a car, it's nothing for me – two minutes extra – and you won't have to run in the mud."
"That was Rabbi Yossie Raichik – a great guy, who also knew to get involved with the smallest details. He was never arrogant, always listened, and looked around to see how he could help."
Argentinean Andy Werthein's story illustrates more than anything else Yossie's enormous Ahavas Yisroel:
"In 2003, I had some troubling personal issues. It was not a happy time. Somehow Yossie heard, and when he arrived in Buenos Aires, he called me to meet him at the coffee shop in his hotel, where he had some minutes to spare and chat, for as usual, he was extremely busy. 
We met and he realized that something was very wrong and he spoke as a true friend with warm words and that special concern he showed when confronted with a problem. Time passed without our noticing, when one of the workers told us that a very worried person had been calling all the phones, looking for Yossie, who had not answered his phone for a whole FIVE hours!!!
He had missed all his appointments for that day while talking to me, and had given me a most valuable present – his precious time – as a true friend would, out of caring without asking anything in return. He was simply there for me."
 The Precious Moment of Connection
This story happened on the night of Simchat Torah by hakafos during shnas 5748. 770 was jammed with thousands of Chassidim from around the world. The simcha was overwhelming, what an atmosphere of joy – to be together with the Rebbe. Standing in the women's section upstairs I suddenly noticed one of the Chassidim pushing himself through the huge crowd and with little baby steps trying to get to the front of 770 where the Rebbe stood. It seemed literally impossible. There was not one inch of empty space. It would almost be like going through the Red Sea! What in the world was this Chassid thinking? It seemed to me that only one thought was crossing his mind and nothing would stop him. With much strength of character and physical efforts this Chassid was finally facing the Rebbe.
I was watching all the way through and suddenly I felt the chills! This was none other than my brother-in-law, Yoseph Yitzchak Halevi Raichik. My husband's twin! I saw him standing right in front of the Rebbe and talking to him. I saw at that very moment the extremely deep connection between Yossie and the Rebbe. When I met Yossie after Yom Tov I mentioned to him that I had witnessed him speaking to the Rebbe during Hakofos. He was totally shocked that I noticed him. I took my courage and asked him, "Did you go to the Rebbe to say "Thank You" for Eli?" And Yossie answered, "Yes"!
This is what had happened. Six weeks earlier on the seventeenth of Elul, Yossie and his wife Dinah were blessed with a baby boy, Elimelech Shraga, after four and a half years of their marriage. Yossie recognized that their baby was born through the blessing of the Rebbe and his dream was to go to Hakofos by the Rebbe and to thank him for the most beautiful present that the Rebbe davened for.
The precious moment of connection between Yossie and the Rebbe stays with me forever.
 A Most Beloved Chassid
After the passing of Rabbi Raichik, Rabbi Sholom Duchman, the director of Kollel Chabad summarized the thoughts of many in this online letter online, and as was observed in the talkback: "So many people all over the world could have authored this letter."
"I join the Khal Adas Chassidim worldwide in mourning the loss of your dear husband, father and brother. Indeed this is a great loss to you. However this is really a great loss to each and every one of us Chassidim. Not only because of his influence and position in Tzach enabling Hafotzas Hamayanos in Eretz Yisroel – a top priority of the Rebbe and therefore a top priority of every single Chassid, but also because of the unique, special, different, and extraordinary Chassidishe traits that Yossie possessed.
He was the example of a true Chassid. He was real, genuine, and true. There was no facade. Everything with him was face value. What you saw, you got. What was on the in was on the out. This came across in all aspects of his life. He was true as a father, true as a friend, true as a Chassid, true as an employer and true as an employee. And in everything that went along with it.
Yossie was unique. He was able to talk and communicate with each on their level, whether it was Reb Yoel at a Chassidishe Farbrengen discussing hiskashrus or with Rosh Yeshivas, actors, doctors, professors or just ordinary people. He was able to impact and was beloved by everyone because he was true.
Yossie had a special chein about him. He was always a special attraction. When he walked into a room, no matter how many people were there, one would feel his presence in a very positive way.
Yossie worked very hard. But he worked very smart, patiently, and calculated. He had a unique ability to see the forest and, at the same time, see the tree. He was focused on the goal and went for it.
Yossie was not a fundraiser. He was a Tofeyach al Mnas Lehatfiach. He was able to touch people to the core of their Neshoma, and involve them.
To me personally, Yossie was a good friend for 40+ years. We spent a lot of time together in the good old days. He had the power of life. He never lost the child in him. He was cute, lively, happy, passionate and forgiving. He always lived the moment. Yes indeed he had difficult times and it was not easy for him. But he accomplished everything with his own 2 hands. He never received anything on a silver platter.
The difficulty of building an institution from scratch, as he has, is obvious. He was a class act. Single-handedly and successfully, he built this institution as a brand name. Indeed, we are all in awe of his accomplishments.
Yossie was not a shove over. He was a man of principles and was outspoken on issues. But he had a unique way of speaking out. He never hurt people.
He was in the world, knew the world, and yet remained out of the world. He mingled with the top, the rich and famous. Nevertheless, there was not a tint of arrogance. And he did it as a job – an achrayus.
His life, his home, his will, and his real passion were in Kfar Chabad with the Rebbe, Chassidim and Chassidishkeit.
Yossie was a great listener. Indeed he was everyone's personal friend. In my opinion, he was the most popular and beloved person in Lubavitch, He mingled with the highest rollers. Nevertheless it was totally not seen on him — not in terms of money or seeking honor. He was quiet. He was understated and always portrayed himself as the simple person from the back. He really lived a simple life on all levels.
There are no words to be menachem this tragic loss, and certainly not to the family. However, perhaps the pain can be a little easier (or maybe harder) as you know how greatly he touched so many, and that literally thousands of people share the pain with you. 
  
One of the Chassidim tearfully recalls the hitva'adut with family, friends and visitors the Shabbat after Rabbi Raichik passed away.
"The heart of the hitva'adut," he tells us, "was the standard Rabbi Yossie set for every one of us. When you speak about tzadikkim or great rabbis, one can always say 'o.k. but he was a great rabbi, etc..' However," the voice of the Chossid grows stronger, "when we hear more and more stories about Rabbi Yossie, a seemingly ordinary man, like everyone else, nevertheless so unique, loving Jewish people, a true and righteous Chassid – this is a call to us all. We can all aim harder, strive more, we all have to be better people. Like Rabbi Yossie and in his merit."
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1 Comments | A Chossid Durch Und Durch

This is realy yossi

WE all loved and knew
Yael Aharoni
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