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Alef Kaballah 

The Alef Kaballah study group explores Kabbalistic-Chassidic discourses by the Lubavitcher Rebbe focusing on transforming self and society, helping us discover our purpose as men and women in today's world. 

The study group meetings takes place weekly on Tuesday evenings in Oakwood Road, NW11 and are led by Dr Tali Loewenthal

To join the group, please get in touch or call 020 8455 0272 or 07913264911

Alef Kaballah Archives

The Alef Kaballah archive is divided into two parts. The 2005-2014 archive, at the top of the list. Beyond that is the library curated since 2014. Each entry normally includes an audio recording of the discussion as well as the class material for you to follow along in depth. 

Archive: 2005-2014

This archive covers eight years of classes. We are working on raising funds to integrate our old archives onto our modern website. Thank you in advance for your support! 

Archive: 2014 - Present

Two Kinds of Radiance

This discourse was taught by the Rebbe on Shabbat Behaalotecha in 1964. The Sedra begins with Aron 'lighting the lights' and the discourse explains that apart from the seven lights of the Menorah, there are two general kinds of light: the Divine radiance which illuminates each Jew, and also the radiance from the Neshama of each Jew, which, so to speak, illuminates Hashem and brings His radiance into the world.

18 June 2024


Moses' Question

In this discourse, taught by the Rebbe in January 1959, Moses asks G-d 'how can I take the Jewish people out of Egypt? I cannot speak properly..'.  G-d answers him: 'Who gave a mouth to man..?    

The meaning of these words might seem obvious.  But the discourse explains that there is another way to understand them. Moses is asking 'how can G-dliness be revealed in this dark world? G-d answers him that indeed it can, because the Essence of the Divine is going to act...

2 January 2024


Joseph Was Working For Us

The Rebbe taught this interesting discourse on Shabbat Miketz in 1972. It explains that Joseph's battle alone in Egypt was actually on behalf of the whole Jewish people. Kabbalistically, it enabled the Jews to survive their exile in Egypt and go free, and by the same token is helping us face our current challenges and ultimately go free, with the coming of Moshiach.

12 December 2023



This discourse, taught on Shabbat of Chanukah by the Rebbe in 1966, focuses on the opening verse of the Haftorah from Zacharia 2:14. The discourse explains the spiritual power of Charity, Tzedaka, the power to reach down to the most needy and through that to be elevated to the highest levels.  Through this the negative is transformed into positive. This is also a key feature of Chanukah, in which the Chanukah lights illuminate the darkness, and reveal its implicit light.

5 December 2023

Decent In Order To Rise

This Discourse was said for Sedra Toledot in 1966.  The Scriptural text states that Isaac 'planted' and the crops were a hundredfold more than expected, and G-d blessed him, and he became very great.

The discourse translates this into spiritual terms relevant to each individual.

14 November 2023


G-d's Favour

This discourse was said by the Rebbe in 1961, in the week of Sedra Noah.  It quotes a verse from the Simchat Torah liturgy and shows that it is relevant throughout the year.  The main theme of the discourse is to explain that G-d's favour shines on the Jewish people from an exalted level even if they are quite devoid of merit

17 Oct 2023


Empowerment of Every Jew

This discourse was taught by the Rebbe in 1964, and it explains how each individual Jew is a 'partner' with G-d in the work of Creation.

10t October 2023


Rosh Hashana on Shabbat

This discourse, said by the Rebbe on the eve of Rosh Hashana in the autumn of 1972, discusses the rule that when Rosh Hashanah falls on Shabbat, one does not sound the Shofar. The Talmud says this is to avoid the possibility of someone inadvertently carrying the Shofar in the public thoroughfare on Shabbat.  

Chassidic teachings explain a further dimension of meaning: the special power of Shabbat compensates for the lack of the Shofar. But it becomes even more important to focus on the ten verses about the Shofar which are included in the Musaf prayer.

12 September 2023

Mishna Rosh Hashana 4

Beyond Vows?

This discourse was said by the Rebbe on Shabbat Mattot-Masey, 1966.  It concerns the concept of making vows, the subject of the beginning of the Sedra of the week, Sedra Mattot.

When a person makes a vow, they are generally forbidding themself from indulging in some physical pleasure. For example, a person might vow not to eat meat, or drink wine.  The Jerusalem Talmud asks: why make a vow, isn't it enough for you all the things the Torah forbids? Why forbid anything else?

The discourse explores the theme of our relationship with physicality and physical pleasures.  Ideally we should be able to relate to every aspect of the physical dimension of life, in order to elevate it.  But often a person can see this would be risky for them, because they can easily be dragged down i nto negative behaviour, so they have to be more circumspect.  The goal is the union of the physical and the spiritual.

11 July 2023


Thanking G-d For Deliverance

This discourse was taught on Shabbat 12 Tammuz in 1967. On 12-13 Tammuz, 1927, the Previous Rebbe was given his freedom after his arrest on account of his activities strengthening Judaism in the Bolshevik USSR. 

Forty years later the Rebbe discussed the discourse said by the Previous Rebbe on the day he was released, thanking G-d for his freedom.  

27 June 2023


Upper Waters & Lower Waters

This discourse was taught by the Rebbe on Shabbat of Sedra Naso, a few days after Shavuot, in 1966.  It provides a fascinating perspective on the relation between the Torah and Nature.  The essence of the Torah is the Ten Commandments, and the essence of Nature is the Ten Utterances with which G-d created the world (such as Let there be Light, Let there be a Firmament, etc). 

The creation of the universe in itself has a certain imbalance, which can lead to negative consequences.  The fact that the Jewish people keep the laws of the Torah gives a positive input to the universe creating harmony for all.

30 May 2023


Shavuot, Giving of the Torah

This discourse was taught by the Rebbe on Shabbat Bemidbar, following Lag B'Omer (which was on the previous Sunday).  This Shabbat was just before the outbreak of the Six Day War in Israel. 

It focuses on a story in the Zohar which describes how Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai was able to make the rain fall after a drought, by saying a Torah teaching.  Other Sages would pray for rain, or even fast.  The discourse explains the special power shown by Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai in that he was able to bring rain by saying a Torah teaching, and how this applies to every Jew.

16 May 2023



This discourse was taught by the Rebbe on Shabbat Sedra Kedoshim, in 1967.  The command 'you should be holy' (Leviticus 19:2) at the beginning of the Sedra is explained by Nachmanides to mean 'sanctify yourself in that which is permitted to you', which an extra level of personal stringency, beyond the basic demand of the Code of Law.  

The discourse discusses the nature of existence, how it can reveal the Essence of the Divine.  The path to achieve this perception is by fulfilling the Commands of the Torah and, in particular, making the extra step of sanctifying oneself in that which is permitted.

25 April 2023


Ultimate Freedom From Pharaoh

The Rebbe taught this discourse, which begins with a quote from the Haggadah, 'We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt..' on Shabbat Parshat Tzav in 1988. It explains that enslavement to Pharaoh comes about through a dislocation within the person. His or her outer manifest will is dislocated from their inner, spiritual will.  Bringing about an alignment within the person leads to true freedom from Pharaoh.  

This step of freedom took place at the Exodus round 3,300 years ago, and it is re-enacted every year at the celebration of Pesach. But it is also part of the process of our connection with our inner selves  and with G-d, every day of the year.

28 March 2023


The Eternal Temple

This discourse was taught by the Rebbe on Shabbat Parshat Terumah, 1983.  The command in the Torah 'Make for Me a Sanctuary' (Exodus 25:8) is commented on by the Midrash: since the text states 'for Me', this means the Sanctuary is eternal.

The Rebbe asks: in which sense is it eternal? Both Temples were destroyed..  One explanation is that there is a heavenly Temple which is never destroyed; another explanation is that there are 'small Temples', the Synagogues and Study Houses, in which the Divine dwells, and so too in the heart of each individual man and woman...

21 February 2023


Towards Heaven Or Earth?

This discourse was taught by the Rebbe on Shabbat Mishpatim 1967.  A verse in the Sedra speaks of lending money to the poor; this opens a discussion of the 'direction' of our service of G-d. Are we trying to ascend to higher levels of holiness? Or to draw the Divine into our world..?

The discourse emphasizes the latter, as in lending money to the poor, which gives us intimate closeness with the Divine.

14 February 2023


A Key Moment

This discourse was taught by the Rebbe on Shabbat Parshat Yitro in 1984.   The Giving of the Torah was a key moment in history, and especially in the history of the Jewish people.

They were coming face to face with the Essence of the Divine.  The dramatic aspects of that event, described in the Torah, were the prelude to that intense experience.

Indeed, so too was the slavery and redemption from Egypt: it was all preparation for this key moment.  In the same way our present Exile is a preparation for the infinite revelation which will take place with the ultimate Redemption.

7 February 2023


Mind and Heart

The Rebbe taught this discourse on Shabbat Sedra Bo in 1984.  It concerns the two dimensions of Mind and Emotion and the way a personal 'Exodus from Egypt' is achieved when the Mind and Emotion fully fit together.

24 January 2023


Why The Pain?

This discourse was taught by the Rebbe in January 1967, on Shabbat Sedra Va'era.  It discusses why there had to be the pain of the slavery in Egypt - which relates also to the pain of other periods of Jewish history.

The discourse explains that this was an important aspect of the preparation for the Giving of the Torah, after which through Torah study and observance of Mitzvot the Jewish people have a positive effect on the world.

The slavery and the pain purified the Jewish people and the world so that this process could take place. There was a lively discussion of this idea.

17 January 2023


True Life

The Rebbe said this discourse in late December 1966, on Shabbat Sedra Vayechi.  Jacob lived the best years of his life in Egypt, despite the moral depravity of that country in his time. What does this teach us about our own lives, often facing acute challenges?

3 January 2023


Transforming Esau

The Rebbe taught this discourse on Shabbat Vayishlach, 1982.  Jacob's goal was to transform Esau to good.  This was the inner meaning in his wrestling with the angel, whom the Sages tell us was the angel of Esau.

Meanwhile Jacob's family could advance towards the physical Esau, without fear.

6 December 2022


The Morning Burst of Light

The Rebbe said this discourse on Shabbat Vayeitze in 1987.  The verse which tells us that 'Laban got up early in the morning' is reinterpreted in a Kabbalistic way. Laban (literally meaning 'white') represents 'the upper whiteness', an exalted realm, the Essence of the Divine, which is in some sense revealed to each individual every morning in his or her Morning Prayers.  

A 'morning burst of light' from the Divine Essence illuminates each person's prayer.  After that they have the task to transform and elevate the world around them through working and fulfilling the Mitzvot of the Torah. 

29 November 2022


Inspiration and Response, Love and Awe

This discourse was taught by the Rebbe in 1964, for Shabbat Toledot.  The Sedra begins 'And these are generations of Isaac the son of Abraham.  Abraham begat Isaac.' The discourse explores this unusual phrasing in terms of one's relationship with the Divine, in general, and in particular, the stages of emotion in prayer.

22 November 2022


Reaching Up In Order To Go Down

The Rebbe taught this discourse on Shabbat Sedra Chayei Sarah, 1964.  A detailed discussion of a comment by the Zohar on the opening verse provides an interesting perspective on the role of Sarah.  

On the one hand she had to reach upwards, to spiritual heights.  But on the other, it was this reaching upwards which enabled her to spread her influence downwards to the world, through her husband Abraham.

15 November 2022

Chayei Sara

The Cry of The Soul

This discourse was taught by the Rebbe on Shabbat Vayera, 1964.  It focuses on the Haftorah from II Kings ch.4, with a story about Elisha. The beginning discusses the nature of Torah texts, which are Divine and have a message throughout the ages.

8 November 2022


Go To Yourself

This discourse was taught by the Lubavitcher Rebbe in 1964 on Shabbat Lech Lecha.  It concerns Abraham being told by G-d 'Go for yourself... to the land which I will show you'.  The discourse explains this means 'go to yourself', go to the root of your own soul.

1 November 2022

Lech Lecha

Escaping the Flood - into the Word

In this discourse of Sedra Noah, 1964, the Rebbe quotes Song of Songs 'many waters cannot quench love' which is explained as meaning that even the many waters , the Flood of anxieties about one's daily business, cannot quench the love of the individual for the Divine.  Noah escaped the Flood by entering the Ark, Tevah in Hebrew, which also means 'word'.  

The Baal Shem Tov taught that we escape by entering the words of Torah and Prayer.  The discourse focuses on Prayer and the need for deep contemplative prayer which enables the person to express their love for the Divine.

25 October 2022


The Importance of 'The People'

This discourse was taught by the Rebbe on Shabbat Ki Tavo, 1967, which was the 18th of Elul that year. It starts with a quote from the Sedra 'Look down from Your sacred abode and bless Your people, Israel' (Deut.26:15). The Sages state that usually the term 'look down' is used in the Torah for a negative, harsh look; but in this case it has been transformed from harsh to kind. What transformed it?

The Mitzvot (Commandments) carried out by the simple 'people', who are contrasted with the scholars, termed 'Israel'. The Repentance of the simple people reaches the highest levels, because it comes from the essence of the heart, reaching the essence of the Divine, transforming harshness to kindness and sweetness, drawing blessings from G-d for the coming year.

13 September 2022

Ki Tavo

Dimensions of Redemption

This discourse was taught by the Lubavitcher Rebbe on the Shabbat before 9th Av (the fast commemorating the destruction of both Temples) in 1984, called Shabbat Chazon, the Shabbat of the Vision.

It is called this because the Haftorah begins with the words 'Vision of Isaiah', from the beginning of the Book of Isaiah. The prophet goes on to castigate the Jewish people for their unfaithfulness to G-d.  This will lead to destruction. Then finally he speaks of the ultimate redemption, and the Haftorah ends with the line 'Zion will be redeemed through Justice, and its captives [will be redeemed] through charity. (Is. 1:27)'. 

The discourse explains that this teaching is always relevant, not only just before 9th Av.  'Zion' means the innermost Divine Soul, and 'its captives' means the body of the person and his or her thoughts, speech and action.  While the soul is always pure, sometimes the person's situation makes it inactive. And the desires of the body can lead it into very unwholesome situations.  But this can be repaired through 'Justice', meaning Torah study, and Charity, meaning all practical commandments. The Torah particularly helps the soul and the charity  and other Mitzvot helps the body.  

2 August 2022

Shabbat Chazon

Journeys of Life

This discourse was taught by the Rebbe on Sedra Matot-Masey in 1965. The Sedra lists the 42 'journeys [stages] by which the Jewish people left Egypt'.  But didn't they leave at the very beginning?  

All the journeys on the path to the Holy Land were part of the journey to leave Egypt.  Similarly all stages during Exile are stages in the path from Egyptian slavery to Redemption, and the Baal Shem Tov said, in the life of each individual there are also these 42 journeys...

26 July 2022


Positive and Negative Self-Sacrifice

This discourse was taught by the Rebbe on Shabbat Parshat Pinchas 1965. It speaks of the self sacrifice of Pinchas, who risked his life to preserve the moral integrity of the Jewish people in the time of Moses, compared with the yearning for the Divine of the two sons of Aaron, whose souls left them in the course of their personal quest for holiness.

19 July 2022


UFARATZTA - Spreading Out Round The World

This discourse was said by the Rebbe on Shabbat Parsha Balak in 1958. It discusses the fact that Balaam's blessing focuses on Jacob (rather than Israel) when he wishes the Jewish people to be as numerous as the dust.  

The idea of being like dust comes up earlier in Sedra Vayetze and it is then that G-d promises him that his descendants will be like the dust of the earth and they will burst out to the west and the east, the north and the south...   Jacob represents the Jewish people and also each individual Jew. Jacob's journey is his or her journey as well.

12 July 2022

Balak and Vayetze

The Statute of the Torah

This discourse was taught by the Rebbe on Shabbat Parsha Chukat in 1965.  It concerns the law of the Red Heifer, which is described both as the central Mitzva in the Torah and also as a Statute which cannot be understood, even by Solomon.  

The discourse explains that the statute beyond reason bonds us to G-d in a remarkable way, which then percolates through all other aspects of our relationship with the Divine and our observance of Jewish law.

5 July 2022


The Lamps of the Soul and of the Torah

This discourse was taught by the Rebbe on Shabbat Behaalotecha 1969. Relating to the Golden Menorah in the Sedra, the discourse discusses the concept of a 'Lamp'.  Each Jew has a personal Lamp, their Soul, and G-d has a lamp, the Torah.  

The Discourse discusses the relationship between the Soul and the Torah. By the fact that the individual studies Torah, his or her soul is awoken to reach towards its source in the Infinite Divine.

14 June 2022


General and Particular

This discourse was taught by the Rebbe on Shabbat Naso of 1968. Its theme is the General and the Particular, in many different aspects of life and of Judaism.

7 June 2022


Three Aspects of 'Saying'

This discourse was taught by the Rebbe on Shavuot in 1969. It discusses the word 'saying' in the verse at the beginning of the Ten Commandments: 'And G-d spoke all these Commandments saying'.  Usually, in the Torah, 'saying' means to tell someone else.  But at the Giving of the Torah, all the Jews were present, and also all the souls of the Jews who would ever live in the future, including all proselytes.  

So what does 'saying' mean? The discourse presents three interesting explanations in terms of the intimate bond of the individual with the Divine, and his or her task in the world around us.

31 May 2022


Ends And Means

This discourse was taught by the Rebbe on Shabbat Bechukotai 1984.  It focuses on the first verse of the Sedra and explains that this Sedra is about the purpose of Creation, which is the indwelling of G-d in the world through the coming of Moshiach, and also about how to get to that point, through the dedicated service of the Jewish people.

24 May 2022


Revealing the Radiance

This discourse was taught by the Rebbe on Shabbat Behar-Bechukotai in 1987.

It concerns the spiritual dimension of counting the Omer.  The Rebbe presents three different ways of understanding this, and then adds that they are relevant not only during the time of the counting of the Omer (between Pesach and Shavuot) but also throughout the year.

17 May 2022

Behar, Bechukotai

Involuntary Holiness

This discourse was taught by the Rebbe on Shabbat Parshat Emor in 1965, and was edited by the Rebbe for publication in 1990.  Commenting on a discussion by Rabbi Shneur Zalman of a verse in the Sedra, the discourse identifies three levels of holiness: the holiness within the individual which yearns for the Divine, and the holiness which flows from G-d to the individual in the form of Torah, the inner spiritual level, and Mitzvot, the outer material level.    

Yet there is a further way of understanding the holiness within the individual: it could be consciously expressed, as in the righteous person, or an involuntary implant of G-dliness in the person who as yet is not observant.  When this latter person becomes a Baal Teshuvah, a repentant, the implanted holiness bursts into effect, reaching an exalted level. Hence the Talmud states that 'the place where the repentants stand, cannot be reached by those who never sinned'.

10 May 2022


Sacred and Mundane

The Rebbe taught this discourse for Shabbat Kedoshim in 1965. It expresses the central Chassidic idea: that not only the holy, also the mundane can express the Divine.   In this discourse this idea is expounded in terms of the fifth year of a fruit tree planted in Israel.  For the first three years the fruit is forbidden; the fourth year it is holy and must be consumed in Jerusalem. The fruit of the fifth year has no restrictions.    The discourse explains that the fruit of the fifth year is actually the most significant, because it expresses the way the Jew can reveal the Essence of the Divine in the ordinary aspects of life.

3 May 2022


Moshiach: Teacher and King

The Rebbe said this discourse on the last day of Pesach in 1965. The Haftorah for this day focuses on Moshiach, and the Chabad custom is to have a final meal in the late afternoon with Matza and four glasses of wine, a kind of repeat of the Seder, but relating not to the Exodus from Egypt in the past, but to the coming of Moshiach in the (immediate) future.  The discourse is a fascinating discussion of the role of Moshiach as Teacher and as King.  As King, he can communicate a deeper dimension of connection to the Divine.

19 April 2022

On that Night

The Rebbe taught this discourse on Purim in 1965.  It focuses on the verse (Esther 6:1) 'On that night the sleep of the King was disturbed'.  This is the point in the story when Ahasuerus cannot sleep and has the chronicles of his kingdom read to him, and he discovers that Mordechai had saved him fro m being assassinated, but had never been rewarded.  At that moment Haman walked into the King's chamber seeking permission to have Mordechai hanged.  The King asked 'what should be done to the man whom the King wishes to honour?'.  

Haman, thinking he was the one whom the King intended to honour, gave an extravagant answer, and then was horrified to hear it was Mordechai who had to be honoured in that way, with Haman himself acting as a herald announcing 'This is the man whom the King wishes to honour'.  At this point in the story the plot changes from dark to light, from sorrow to joy.  The discourse explains that the King whose 'sleep' is disturbed is the Holy One, who is responding to the fact that the Jews identified as Jews despite the pressure to conform and worship Haman as an idol.  'Night' (contrasting with 'day') represents concealment.  In the depths of concealment, the depths of Exile, the Divine was revealed, bringing a joyful turnabout for the Jews.

15 March 2022

Revealed Torah, Inner Torah

This discourse was said by the Rebbe on Shabbat Vayikra 1965. It presents a fascinating perspective on the relation between the revealed Torah (the Talmud and Laws) and the inner aspect of Torah (Chassidic teachings).

Through Chassidic teachings, one sees a higher level of meaning in the revealed Torah, bringing one into more direct awareness and awe of the Divine. The Purim festival also helps one transcend the appearances of life and reach the higher dimension where all is good.

8 March 2022


The Sanctuary, the Shema and Shabbat

This discourse was taught by the Rebbe on Shabbat Pekudey, 1965.  In the first verse of the Sedra there are hints to different stages in service of the Divine. These parallel the relationship between Shabbat and the days of the week. The discourse emphasises the way Shabbat provides inspiration and empowerment for the week that follows.

1 March 2022


The Mirrors Of The Sanctuary

This discourse was taught by the Rebbe on Shabbat Vayakhel in 1959. Moses gathers the people to tell them about the Sanctuary, because the Sanctuary relates to every Jew.  Within the Sanctuary is the Laver (washbasin) for the Priests to wash their hands and feet. The laver was made of copper mirrors, donated by the women of Israel. This becomes an image of the Divine service of every Jew.  We connect to G-d through the clear prism of Torah and Mitzvot, and through the less clear prism, the mirror, of our struggle with the Animal Soul.  The mirror provides only a reflected image, but in certain ways this reaches even higher than the direct vision of the clear prism.

22 February 2022


Owning The Torah

The Rebbe taught this discourse on Shushan Purim Katan in 1967, that's 15 Adar I. It focuses on a discourse with the same 'name', ie opening verse, which was heroically taught by Rabbi Joseph Isaac Schneersohn in 1927, in Moscow, to a crowded Synagogue, despite the Communist persecution of Jewish Rabbis and teachers. Its theme is self-sacrifice for Torah study, through which one comes to 'own' the Torah teachings which one learns.

15 February 2022

Ki Tisa

The Olive And The Oil

This discourse was said by the Rebbe on Shabbat Tetzaveh in 1965.  Does the oil have to be extracted from the negativity of the bitter olive, or does it naturally descend from the exalted olive of supernal Wisdom?

This seemingly abstract discussion leads to a presentation of two dimensions in life: the higher level, at which Moses (and his successors, leaders of the Jewish people) draw the oil of selflessness and supernal repentance, the oil of Torah, and transmit it below to Aaron and the Jewish people, who struggle to remove the pure oil from the concealing olive and use its radiance to light up the world.

8 February 2022


Accepting The Divine

This discourse was taught by the Rebbe on Shabbat Terumah in 1965.  Discussing a verse at the beginning of the Sedra, it explains that inspiration from the Divine is always available.  One form of that inspiration is in the Torah.

The question is whether or not we accept it. Once we do, the onus is then on us to step forward and actively serve G-d in practical and spiritual ways.

1 February 2022


The Smoke on the Mountain

This discourse was said by the Rebbe on Shabbat Mishpatim in 1965. It discusses the 'cloud' or 'smoke' on Mount Sinai.  The smoke represents the negativity and coarseness of the world; but G-d makes a pathway for us.  This means we are able to deal  with negative things, and realise that the coarse smoke is in fact ä cloud, a spiritual manifestation.

25 January 2022


Entering the Thickness of the Cloud

This discourse, taught by the Rebbe in 1965 for Sedra Yitro, discusses Moses' climbing Mount Sinai after the revelation of the Ten Commandments.  He was going to be forty days and nights on the mountain.  At the beginning of his ascent the Torah describes him entering 'the thickness of the cloud'.  What does this represent?  The hiddenness of G-d in this world? The exalted essence of G-d which is described as 'dwelling in darkness'? Or both..?  The discourse also presents the way Moses draws close to G-d in order to draw with him every other Jew.

18 January 2022



The Ten Sefirot: diagram

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Seven Noahide Values

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