Aish HaTorah

People of the Covenant - Ask a Jew

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Shalom, my friends.

I hope the peace of HaShem is upon you now and always.  I thought I would start this thread to entice you to ask those burning questions you may have (or, perhaps you don't!) always wanted to ask of a Jew.  Please, feel free to share.  No question (other than those that are antithetical to the forum rules) will be considered too great or too small.  Many of you have asked delicious questions in other threads, but there is always room for more sharing and understanding between our people.

Now, some ideas and a joke to get the cogs in your brain turning...

1. Are Jews followers of a religion or members of a race/ethnicity?

2. What does the Covenant of Abraham mean to us today?

3. What is the difference between a Synagogue and a Temple?

4. Who was the first Jew?

5. Why do Jews believe that Palestinians have no historical claim to land?

6. Is the Rabbi the same as a Priest or Pastor?

7. How can we say Mormons are Gentiles and you say that we are Gentiles? :D

8. Is my daughter driving me crazy preparing for her Bat Mitzvah? (Uhhh...)  What is a Bat Mitzvah, anyway?

9. What's so wrong with a bacon cheeseburger?

10. Can animals be Jewish?

11. Whatever other burning questions you may have!

So my mishpacha...have at it!  Don't beat me up.  Unless you want to, then it's ok I suppose.

And may the odds be ever in your favor...

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I forgot the joke!  Oy gevalt, I'm glad my children are at school.  ;)

A father was telling Torah stories to his young children.

He read, "The man named Lot was warned to take his wife and flee out of the city and never look back.  But, his wife looked back, sadly, and so was turned to salt."

His son asked, "What happened to the flea?"

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I think this is a pretty good list.  I've indicated the ones I'd be interested in.

19 minutes ago, Aish HaTorah said:

2. What does the Covenant of Abraham mean to us today?

4. Who was the first Jew?

5. Why do Jews believe that Palestinians have no historical claim to land?

6. Is the Rabbi the same as a Priest or Pastor?

8. Is my daughter driving me crazy preparing for her Bat Mitzvah? (Uhhh...)  What is a Bat Mitzvah, anyway?

 

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10 minutes ago, Carborendum said:

I think this is a pretty good list.  I've indicated the ones I'd be interested in.

 

This is a task and a blessing.  I will answer them in posts below.  Please keep in mind that this is my understanding, and that I am in no way the authority on all things Jewish.  As my rabbi often says, "I have one brain, one desire, and 10 opinions, so that qualifies me!"

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5 minutes ago, Aish HaTorah said:

"I have one brain, one desire, and 10 opinions, so that qualifies me!"

Well, I've got three brains.

No I don't, just two.

What are you talking about?  There are four of us.  Fezzik said so.

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Questions #2 and #4 can be combined.  Abraham is considered to be the first Jew.  The Covenant remains the same today as in days of old.  We believe that G-d established His Covenant through us and for us.  As Genesis states in chapter 17 (beginning with verse 6):

 
ו  וְהִפְרֵתִי אֹתְךָ בִּמְאֹד מְאֹד, וּנְתַתִּיךָ לְגוֹיִם; וּמְלָכִים, מִמְּךָ יֵצֵאוּ. 6 And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.
ז  וַהֲקִמֹתִי אֶת-בְּרִיתִי בֵּינִי וּבֵינֶךָ, וּבֵין זַרְעֲךָ אַחֲרֶיךָ לְדֹרֹתָם--לִבְרִית עוֹלָם:  לִהְיוֹת לְךָ לֵאלֹהִים, וּלְזַרְעֲךָ אַחֲרֶיךָ. 7 And I will establish My covenant between Me and thee and thy seed after thee throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee and to thy seed after thee.
ח  וְנָתַתִּי לְךָ וּלְזַרְעֲךָ אַחֲרֶיךָ אֵת אֶרֶץ מְגֻרֶיךָ, אֵת כָּל-אֶרֶץ כְּנַעַן, לַאֲחֻזַּת, עוֹלָם; וְהָיִיתִי לָהֶם, לֵאלֹהִים. 8 And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land of thy sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.'
ט  וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים אֶל-אַבְרָהָם, וְאַתָּה אֶת-בְּרִיתִי תִשְׁמֹר--אַתָּה וְזַרְעֲךָ אַחֲרֶיךָ, לְדֹרֹתָם. 9 And God said unto Abraham: 'And as for thee, thou shalt keep My covenant, thou, and thy seed after thee throughout their generations.

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Obviously, anyone can come on an anonymous list and claim to be a Jew and a resource for answering questions about Judaism. But I'll assume for the moment that you're legit. (Ain't that nice of me?)

I actually don't mean to be combative; I'm simply skeptical of online experts. No offense intended. Here are a few questions, which again are not meant to be combative, but represent sincere (if biased) questions on my part:

  • By what authority do adherents of Judaism accept the Talmud?
  • By what logic do so many Jews accept the Jewishness of open atheists but reject that of so-called "Messianic Jews" or "Christian Jews"?
  • In what reasonable sense does my performing a private ordinance for a name that might happen to be Jewish impugn the integrity of Jews? In other words, how can Jews reasonably take offense at Latter-day Saints performing ordinances on behalf of dead Jews?

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19 minutes ago, Vort said:

Obviously, anyone can come on an anonymous list and claim to be a Jew and a resource for answering questions about Judaism. But I'll assume for the moment that you're legit. (Ain't that nice of me?)

I actually don't mean to be combative; I'm simply skeptical of online experts. No offense intended. Here are a few questions, which again are not meant to be combative, but represent sincere (if biased) questions on my part:

  • By what authority do adherents of Judaism accept the Talmud?
  • By what logic do so many Jews accept the Jewishness of open atheists but reject that of so-called "Messianic Jews" or "Christian Jews"?
  • In what reasonable sense does my performing a private ordinance for a name that might happen to be Jewish impugn the integrity of Jews? In other words, how can Jews reasonably take offense at Latter-day Saints performing ordinances on behalf of dead Jews?

You ask weighty questions, my friend.  Before I respond, allow me to put to bed forever one thing that you mentioned.  I am not now, nor have I ever been, an authority on pretty much anything.  Just ask my children.  They will be all too happy to confirm this conviction!  I have no agenda here whatsoever.  I am your humble servant.

So, here goes...(I will answer the questions in separate posts as my computer has a terrible habit of timing out when I dally)

1)  By what authority do adherents of Judaism accept the Talmud?

Ummm...my rabbi?  Seriously, have you met him?  My grandmother is worse.  But, I digress...Let it be said from the outset that Torah was and is and will be the ultimate authority on all things regarding Jewish beliefs and practice.  I don't know of a Jew that would argue that point.  The Torah, however, is a bit dusty and terse.  It is old.  Sometimes it is somewhat challenging to consider the thoughts, feelings, and intentions of the writers.  Enter the Talmud.  It was, of course, written by rabbis of old (not quite as old as Torah, but still).  Luckily for us, Torah itself anticipates that there would be questions as humanity marched forward in time, and would need possible interpretation for some of the stickier concepts.  For authority, we turn to Torah itself.  Specifically Deuteronomy 17...

9 And thou shall come unto the priests the Levites, and unto the judge that shall be in those days; and thou shalt inquire; and they shall declare unto thee the sentence of judgment. 10 And thou shalt do according to the tenor of the sentence, which they shall declare unto thee from that place which the LORD shall choose; and thou shalt observe to do according to all that they shall teach thee. 11 According to the law which they shall teach thee, and according to the judgment which they shall tell thee, thou shalt do; thou shalt not turn aside from the sentence which they shall declare unto thee, to the right hand, nor to the left. 12 And the man that doeth presumptuously, in not hearkening unto the priest that standeth to minister there before the LORD thy God, or unto the judge, even that man shall die; and thou shalt exterminate the evil from Israel.  13 And all the people shall hear, and fear, and do no more presumptuously.

This passage instructs us to follow decisions made by Jewish authorities "in those days," meaning, in our contemporary time.  Essentially, the Torah itself authorizes the rabbis to make decisions on matters of Jewish law.  Rabbis in our time are successors to Talmudic rabbis, and, as such, they are the authority for us regarding these matters.

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36 minutes ago, Vort said:

 

  • By what logic do so many Jews accept the Jewishness of open atheists but reject that of so-called "Messianic Jews" or "Christian Jews"?

I am looking, but I see no logic here.  By what logic do most Jews vote for Democrats?  Many of them view Israel as a pariah state and do not recognize the legitimacy of Jerusalem as its capital.  I cannot speak for all Jews, of course, but I would no more consider an open atheist (or generalized Deist, for that matter) to be adherents to "Jewishness" any more than I would "Messianic Jews" or "Christian Jews."

On a side note, the term "Messianic Jew" as used in a Christian context by followers of that dogma is somewhat offensive to Jews.  Most Jews consider ourselves to be Messianic.  We look to the Mashiach to come as promised.

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41 minutes ago, Vort said:

 

  • In what reasonable sense does my performing a private ordinance for a name that might happen to be Jewish impugn the integrity of Jews? In other words, how can Jews reasonably take offense at Latter-day Saints performing ordinances on behalf of dead Jews?

That was your first mistake, friend!  :D  "Reasonable" and "sense" do not belong in the same sentence.  In short, many Jews need something about which to kvetch.  It is in our blood.

The touchy-feely part comes in specifically with regard to victims of the Shoah (the Holocaust).  Jews have been persecuted (much like LDS) virtually since our conception.  Many, many groups of people, sadly, have committed atrocities to our people in the name of religion, politics, and...well just about everything you can think of.  Those of our ancestors who died such cruel deaths in the Holocaust are largely considered heroes to our people.  When another group (not just well-meaning members of your church) does something that is perceived as taking away from the connection we feel for our heritage and Covenant (L'Dor V'Dor), it is sometimes hurtful.  It has a flavor of delegitimizing what we hold most dear.  It is this sense of delegitimization that rubs many of our people the wrong way.

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Dear Aish,

What is the Jewish concept of the afterlife? If you behave well, what happens? If you behave badly?

Are women equal to men? For LDS, yes but genders have different responsibilities.

What is the greatest sin?(To LDS, I think it is denying the Holy Ghost, I do not really know what that means. I think 2nd is murder. Perhaps 3rd is adultery or similar. Not sure where being a traitor would fit in. Any LDS folks feel free to correct me!)

What is the purpose of life. I think LDS might say to please God.

How do you know if you are doing well in life? I think the LDS answer might be if you have the constant companion of the Holy Ghost.

What ordinances must one undertake to return to God? LDS;baptism, confirmation, endowments, sealing to spouse. Weekly sacrament. Anything I missed?

Most important commandments: Love God and Love neighbors.

Dear LDS, if I made a mistake feel free to correct me!

 

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Sunday21, because you invite correction/clarification, I will chime in a bit on your questions. I have no corrections to offer, but there are some clarifications that might be worth stating. To be clear, this is my own understanding; I don't claim to speak for the Church.

10 minutes ago, Sunday21 said:

Are women equal to men? For LDS, yes but genders have different responsibilities.

In a strict literal sense, I believe you're right. I think our leaders have even used the words "equal" and "equality" when describing the sexes. But in a larger sense, I think the whole issue is moot and probably not very meaningful.

Which is more important to a car, the transmission or the steering? Which is more important to a human body, the nervous system or the digestive system? Which is more important, the House or the Senate? In many cases, specifically when there are two or more things that are sine qua non (or what mathematiciams might call "necessary but insufficient"), it doesn't make much sense to say "A is more important than B" or vice versa, or even to say "A is equal in imoprtance to B". There is no hierarchy, explicit or implicit, in such things. Both parties simply are. Both must be present.

For example, mothers create and carry babies within their very bodies, which is as miraculous a thing as I can envision -- certainly as miraculous as (or more than) raising the dead, or even than resurrection. So does that mean motherhood is "more important than" fatherhood? The question is unanswerable, but it almost doesn't even make sense. Without a father, there is no mother. Without the man, the woman does not create life.

My response tends to be that women are not "equal to" men, nor are they "inferior to" or "superior to" men. If I had to choose one of those descriptions, I would choose "equal to", but I think this is a case where the wording of a description serves to confuse rather than to clarify the issue.

11 minutes ago, Sunday21 said:

What is the greatest sin?(To LDS, I think it is denying the Holy Ghost, I do not really know what that means. I think 2nd is murder. Perhaps 3rd is adultery or similar. Not sure where being a traitor would fit in. Any LDS folks feel free to correct me!)

In my understanding, "to deny the Holy Ghost" means to openly and intentionally reject truth that has been revealed to you. You actually and literally reject that piece of God within your soul. One cannot repent from such an action, any more than one can be saved in sin. The nature of the act itself destroys the ability to repent. Those who deny the Holy Ghost exterminate within themselves all Godliness. They don't want to be saved from their sins. They don't want the atoning blood of Christ. They don't want to dwell in a divine presence for all eternity. They want to be their own law, to make their own rules, to define the terms of their own existence, without any reference to actual reality (or the divine laws based on that underlying reality).

Murder is the prototypical Great Evil. Cain's great evil achievement of being Master Mahan, the master of "that great secret", was (according to Nibley) that he discovered that human life can be converted into property, money, and power. That is "the great secret" of the "secret combinations" -- that they may murder and get gain. Certainly, for one who has been given the knowledge of God, such an act might constitute that very extinguishing of the divine flame within one's soul that would then condemn him as lost -- the meaning of the word Perdition. So in the LDS context, murder has often been compared with and even considered the same as the denial of the Holy Ghost. I do not believe them to be the same thing, but I do think they are related, as I have explained above.

Adultery is the prototypical sin of "covenant-breaking". Israel was often condemned as "wicked and adulterous". Christ proclaimed that seeking for a sign was the activity of a "wicked and adulterous generation". Why adulterous? Because Israel, to whom Christ was speaking, was a covenant people. Their sign-seeking was  betrayal of that covenant.

On this topic, another way of reading Alma's counsel to his son Corianton was that his sins ("these things"), which wer " most abominable above all sins save it be the shedding of innocent blood or denying the Holy Ghost", were not fornications per se, but rather were the forsaking of his covenants in forsaking his ministry to follow the lusts of his heart and eyes.

(And by the way, it's highly unlikely in my mind that Isabel was simply a prostitute. Alma's words make it clear that she was much sought-after, but you can find a prostitute more conveniently than having to go to the next town over. I speculate that Isabel was the priestess of a fertility -- read: sex -- cult. Such cults have existed since prehistoric times in almost all cultures, typically run by women as priestesses, and have exerted great influences on the courses of civilizations past and present. One is led to wonder if Paul's seeming antipathy toward women and his exhortations that women should not speak in church or have a hand in important church decisions was not very directly related to the prevalence of very popular fertility cults throughout the Mediterranean in his time.)

11 minutes ago, Sunday21 said:

What is the purpose of life. I think LDS might say to please God.

I would say it is to gain eternal life, the greatest of God's gifts.

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22 minutes ago, Sunday21 said:

 

 

22 minutes ago, Sunday21 said:

Dear Aish,

 

Hello Sunday21!  How are you, my friend?  Thank you kindly for the questions (a note to all...if you asked me something, and I failed to respond, please remind me.  My deck is full and I often forget things), I shall do my best to answer them.  If I go into too much detail (or not enough) kindly let me know.

Quote

What is the Jewish concept of the afterlife? If you behave well, what happens? If you behave badly?

As with so many things in my faith, ask two people and you'll get (at least!) three opinions.  I can best describe the Jewish concept of life after death as...ambiguous.  I could be clever and say that there isn't anything after life, because life never ends.  Our soul is set free from our mortal flesh and rises higher toward the source of our creation.  Heavy theological terms such as resurrection, heaven and hell, as well as the immortality of the soul all figure prominently in Jewish belief and tradition, but the details of what these concepts mean and how they relate one to another is nothing if not vague.  It provides endless hours of debate for those far wiser than I!

The idea of resurrection is clearly stated (if not frequently) in the Tanakh.  The Book of Daniel, for example, states in Chapter 12 that - "Many of those that sleep in the dust of the earth will awake, some to eternal life, others to reproaches, to everlasting abhorrence."  Resurrection will be followed by a judgment.  Those who are found standing at the end of this judgment will have eternal life and those judged to be wicked will be held to punishment.

Quote

Are women equal to men? For LDS, yes but genders have different responsibilities

This is largely the same in our belief.  Women share equality with men while enjoying unique blessings specific to gender.  The woman, for example, is responsible for Shabbat.  She lights the candles and ushers in the Ruach. You may find it interesting to note that, in Judaism, G-d is neither male nor female (what?!).

I am going to continue in a separate post.  :)

 

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Back to Sunday21's questions...

Quote

What is the greatest sin?(To LDS, I think it is denying the Holy Ghost, I do not really know what that means. I think 2nd is murder. Perhaps 3rd is adultery or similar. Not sure where being a traitor would fit in. Any LDS folks feel free to correct me!)

My rabbi would say that breaking any one of the 613 mitzvot (commandments) required of Jews is "the greatest sin."  Gentiles, we believe, only have to obey 4 mitzvot.  Generally speaking, sins of man against man are considered of far greater severity than sins of man against G-d.

 

Quote

What is the purpose of life. I think LDS might say to please God.

This, too, is complex.  Simply put, our purpose is "to love the L-rd G-d with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength."  (Deuteronomy 6:5)

Quote

How do you know if you are doing well in life? I think the LDS answer might be if you have the constant companion of the Holy Ghost.

We know this by truthfully answering that we are loving G-d, serving mankind, and experiencing joy/pleasure (not to be mistaken with comfort).

Quote

What ordinances must one undertake to return to God? LDS;baptism, confirmation, endowments, sealing to spouse. Weekly sacrament. Anything I missed?

Obeying the 613 mitzvot, of which 248 are positive (i.e. do's) and 365 negative (i.e. do not's).

Quote

Most important commandments: Love God and Love neighbors.

This one is the most beautiful.  The Shema...

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Hear, Israel, the L-rd is our G-d, the L-rd is One.  Blessed be the name of His glorious kingdom for ever and ever.  And you shall love the L-rd your G-d with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  And these words that I command you today shall be in your heart.  And you shall teach them diligently to your children, and you shall speak of them when you sit at home, and when you walk along the way, and when you lie down and when you rise up.  And you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be for a sign between your eyes.  And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

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@Aish HaTorahThank you so much! I shall henceforth stop whining to myself about my load of church responsibilities! 613 commandments. That's one heck of a lot! I doubt that could possibly remember so many dos and don'ts. My family characterizes the lds faith as 'anything not compulsory is strictly forbidden'. Perhaps I should stop whining?

@Vort   Thank you for your comments. I had thought that Corianton needed to travel to find a woman of that station in life because all of the locals were virtuous. In fact, opportunities were as available as the local Starbucks which puts quite another complexion on ancient life!

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I note that all these posts occured on the same day. Are you still available for some questions 

On 11/18/2016 at 4:26 AM, Aish HaTorah said:

Shalom, my friends.

I hope the peace of HaShem is upon you now and always.  I thought I would start this thread to entice you to ask those burning questions you may have (or, perhaps you don't!) always wanted to ask of a Jew.  Please, feel free to share.  No question (other than those that are antithetical to the forum rules) will be considered too great or too small.  Many of you have asked delicious questions in other threads, but there is always room for more sharing and understanding between our people.

Now, some ideas and a joke to get the cogs in your brain turning...

1. Are Jews followers of a religion or members of a race/ethnicity?

2. What does the Covenant of Abraham mean to us today?

3. What is the difference between a Synagogue and a Temple?

4. Who was the first Jew?

5. Why do Jews believe that Palestinians have no historical claim to land?

6. Is the Rabbi the same as a Priest or Pastor?

7. How can we say Mormons are Gentiles and you say that we are Gentiles? :D

8. Is my daughter driving me crazy preparing for her Bat Mitzvah? (Uhhh...)  What is a Bat Mitzvah, anyway?

9. What's so wrong with a bacon cheeseburger?

10. Can animals be Jewish?

11. Whatever other burning questions you may have!

So my mishpacha...have at it!  Don't beat me up.  Unless you want to, then it's ok I suppose.

And may the odds be ever in your favor...

I note that these posts were all made on the same day. Aish HaTorah, are you still available for questioning? I've got a topic I'd like to ask about. 

Edited by askandanswer

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4 hours ago, askandanswer said:

I note that all these posts occured on the same day. Are you still available for some questions 

I note that these posts were all made on the same day. Aish HaTorah, are you still available for questioning? I've got a topic I'd like to ask about. 

He hasn't been around since this thread.  I think you'd have to PM him.

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On 11/17/2016 at 1:26 PM, Aish HaTorah said:

Shalom, my friends.

I hope the peace of HaShem is upon you now and always.  I thought I would start this thread to entice you to ask those burning questions you may have (or, perhaps you don't!) always wanted to ask of a Jew.  Please, feel free to share.  No question (other than those that are antithetical to the forum rules) will be considered too great or too small.  Many of you have asked delicious questions in other threads, but there is always room for more sharing and understanding between our people.

Now, some ideas and a joke to get the cogs in your brain turning...

1. Are Jews followers of a religion or members of a race/ethnicity?

2. What does the Covenant of Abraham mean to us today?

3. What is the difference between a Synagogue and a Temple?

4. Who was the first Jew?

5. Why do Jews believe that Palestinians have no historical claim to land?

6. Is the Rabbi the same as a Priest or Pastor?

7. How can we say Mormons are Gentiles and you say that we are Gentiles? :D

8. Is my daughter driving me crazy preparing for her Bat Mitzvah? (Uhhh...)  What is a Bat Mitzvah, anyway?

9. What's so wrong with a bacon cheeseburger?

10. Can animals be Jewish?

11. Whatever other burning questions you may have!

So my mishpacha...have at it!  Don't beat me up.  Unless you want to, then it's ok I suppose.

And may the odds be ever in your favor...

Shalom.....  do you feel that a Jerusalem Third Temple needs to be constructed and in use 

previous to the fulfillment of Zechariah chapter 14?

Personally......  I do.......  an a man from Uganda named Eporu Ronald Alfred has predicted that 

a "Christian Political Cyrus" will come on the world stage soon and build the Jerusalem Third Temple.  

As you can guess... I am wondering if that prediction could fit with Moshiach ben Ephrayim.

 

 

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@DennisTate, do you look at the date of the posts you're quoting?  Cuz you're resurrecting a lot of dead threads...  And in some cases, replying to people who haven't been around in over a year...  Just mentioning so you're not terribly surprised when they don't reply.

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Just now, zil said:

@DennisTate, do you look at the date of the posts you're quoting?  Cuz you're resurrecting a lot of dead threads...  And in some cases, replying to people who haven't been around in over a year...  Just mentioning so you're not terribly surprised when they don't reply.

Thank you........ I will keep an eye out for that in the future!

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