Jewish view of Original Sin?


#1

Would someone please explain to me what the
Jewish view is on what Catholics call Original
Sin?

And where was the idea of original sin first put
forth and by whom within Catholicism?

I’ve been wrestling with doubt about this
doctrine for over 45 years.
Thanks,
reen12


#2

Hi reen12!

You asked:

Would someone please explain to me what the Jewish view is on what Catholics call Original Sin?

Very simple.

We don’t believe in it, at all. See jewfaq.org/human.htm, jewsforjudaism.com/web/faq/faq123.html & jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/worth.html.

Howzat?

Be well!

ssv :wave:


#3

Good morning, stillsmallvoice!

I’ll be sure to read the information you indicated.

stillsmallvoice, I’m in a precarious position,
theologically.
I’m coming to realize, with growing alarm, that
my mind and heart are much more compatible
with Judaism. This has been an ongoing
process over many years.

Here’s the real problem, as I see it:

I could not convert to Judaism, because every
time a prayer was said concerning the coming
of the Messiah, I’d be thinking: “There’s a good
chance that He’s already come” and I would
feel that I was showing false colors, so to speak.

If Jesus was the Messiah, I don’t want to deny Him.
Bear with me, I’m thinking this through…
I guess I just don’t want to relate to God through
Jesus, even if He *is *the Messiah.
[Oh, my aching head and heart.]

Any thoughts, good person?
reen12


#4

This is taken from one of SSV’s links:

"While Judaism and Christianity both affirm this doctrine of the inherent value and equality of all human life, they do have different views of man. **Christianity maintains that all men after Adam are inherently sinful and in need of God’s enabling grace in order to be good. Sin, in other words, is part and parcel of the human condition. **
Judaism, by contrast, affirms that,

**man is inherently pure and good, **
sin is an inclination or deed, and,
man has the ability to resist sin and initiate his own return to God Who, in turn, responds with grace."

I disagree with the statement that Christians believe that all men are “in need of God’s enabling grace in order to be good.” There are plenty of good people that were simply taught to be good people. It’s not as if we think human beings are nothing but depraved animals before baptism. Men can be taught to be good, caring, individuals.

Christians believe something other than that. The apostle Paul tells us that “Therefore just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). One can choose to agree or disagree with that view of the human condition. Is Paul right, are all people inclined towards sin?

Judging from my own life experiences and from my observations of human nature in general, I agree with Paul. Indeed, any psychologist will tell you that children are born inherently selfish. They have to be taught to be loving, kind, and to think of others. These things do not come naturally. Without proper examples and instruction children can, and do, grow up to be incredibly selfish, ungodly people. That, of course, is just my opinion.

That said, I too, feel drawn to Judaism. It is certainly the bedrock on which my Catholic faith rests, and I have tremendous respect for that tradition. Reen, you may want to explore the journeys of some of the Jewish people who became Catholic. I would imagine that you would want to see what they went through, what their thought process was. Here’s a website with many resources:

hebrewcatholic.org/

There are also books that deal with the same thing written by Roy Schoeman, Rosalind Moss and others. God bless you.


#5

[quote=stillsmallvoice]Hi reen12!

You asked:

Very simple.

We don’t believe in it, at all. See jewfaq.org/human.htm, jewsforjudaism.com/web/faq/faq123.html & jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/worth.html.

Howzat?

Be well!

ssv :wave:
[/quote]

SSV,

I have some questions for you.
Do you believe in the “fall of Adam” as Christians do?
Do you believe Adam was immortal before the fall?
According to Judaism, what is G-d’s purpose and plan for mankind?
I know that you believe G-d is eternal and created the universe from nothing (ex-nihilo). Was this always taught right from the beginning and do you have references for this?

Thanks


#6

Dear Todd,

Many thanks for your reply. That’s a solid idea
about looking into the reverse process…of
former adherents of Judaism traveling to
Catholicism. I’ll certainly read the link you
posted.

I am acutely aware that my position is not
tenable in terms of Christian…least of all
Roman Catholic…doctrine.
“No one comes to the Father except through
Me.”

The trouble is, I know this intellectually, but
I evidently don’t know this by faith.

Thanks for your charity in responding,
reen12


#7

Hi all!

Tmaque, you posted:

Is Paul right, are all people inclined towards sin?

Judging from my own life experiences and from my observations of human nature in general, I agree with Paul. Indeed, any psychologist will tell you that children are born inherently selfish. They have to be taught to be loving, kind, and to think of others. These things do not come naturally. Without proper examples and instruction children can, and do, grow up to be incredibly selfish, ungodly people. That, of course, is just my opinion.

I (certainly) respect your opinion even though I do not share it. Judging from my own life experiences and from my observations of human nature in general, I disagree with Paul. Yes, children (DW & I have two boys, thank God, 4 & 8) are born inherently selfish, but that does not make them necessarily evil or intrinsically predisposed to do evil. Yes, children must be taught many good character traits but they must also be taught the bad ones. A child will not lie, cheat, steal, etc. unless he/she has been taught/led to believe (whether explicitly or implicitly, whether tacitly or openly, whether passively or actively) that it is OK to do so. Bigotry, hatred, intolerance are all learned behaviors.

You asked:

Do you believe in the “fall of Adam” as Christians do?
Do you believe Adam was immortal before the fall?

No & not exactly.

See torah.org/qanda/seequanda.php?id=310 & aish.com/torahportion/mayanot/Give_Me_Liberty;_Give_Me_Death.asp (scroll down to the section entitled Origins of the Death Force).

I’ve culled what follows from the writings of Rabbi Ari Kahn. We may conclude from Genesis 2:16-17 that Adam (and Eve) were not forbidden to eat from the Tree of Life prior to their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Our Sages identify the Tree of Life with the Torah (see Proverbs 3:1…3:18; the Hebrew phrase erroneously translated as “My teaching” in 3:1 is Torati, literally “My Torah”) & teach that the Tree of Life in the garden was the embodiment of the Torah & all the wisdom contained therein. If the Tree of Life is the Torah, then what is the Tree of Knowledge? Our Sages comment on the usage of the root y-d-h (which, in its various forms, means “to know”, “knowledge”, etc.) and note that its first occurence immediately after the expuilsion is in Genesis 4:1 (“And Adam knew his wife…”) & conclude that knowledge implies experience; thus, our Sages identify the Tree of Knowledge as the Tree of Experience.

Rabbi Kahn explains that God’s plan was for Adam & Eve to eat of the Tree of Life (i.e. partake of the Torah) before delving into the world of experience (i.e. eat from the Tree of Knowledge). But, incited by the snake (whom our Sages identify with the yetzer hara, the selfish/self-centered impulse [see [url=“http://www.jewfaq.org/human.htm#Yetzer”]http://www.jewfaq.org/human.htm#Yetzer ] in all of us), we messed up the order & got it backwards. Rabbi Kahn writes: “The advantage of Torah wisdom preceding experience is that the Torah, once internalized, will serve as a basis from which subsequent experience will be interpreted. Torah becomes a vantage point from which experiences are viewed and understood. If, however, experiences are acquired first, they will serve as a basis for the interpretation given subsequently to Torah. This latter sequence can lead to distortion of the Torah and misinterpretation based on the subjective experience of the individual. Torah must precede experience. Torah must be the benchmark by which Jews lead their lives.” So instead of receiving the Torah & its wisdom and infusing it into the very core of our collective being at the very beginning of our existence as a species, we are driven from it with a sword-wielding cherub barring, I wouldn’t say the way back to it, rather I’d say, barring this particular route back to it.

(cont.)


#8

(cont.)

Jump forward to Moses & the Burning Bush on Mt. Sinai in Exodus 3:1-4:19. Our Sages see this revelation on Mt. Sinai as a microcosm of the second & greater revelation on Mt. Sinai, i.e. of the 10 Commandments & the Torah itself, beginning a few chapters later. When Moses protests that we would not believe him, that God had revealed Himself to him, God tells Moses to cast his (wooden) staff on the ground. It becomes a snake & Moses flees from it. God then told Moses to pick it up & it becomes a staff again. Rabbi Kahn writes: “The staff, which is, after all, only a piece of wood, can become a snake. When Moses sees this snake he becomes justifiably frightened, not just because a snake is dangerous, but because it symbolizes sin. Our previous experience with a snake had disastrous consequences for the world. But now, things are different…Moses is shown that he can control the snake. The antidote is in his hands. Evil can be countered. When one connects with the Transcendent God, via Torah, evil can have no hold.”

Jump forward once more. The Torah scroll that Moses wrote (the 10 Commandments are a microcosm for/symbolize/represent the entire Torah) was placed in the Ark (interpretations of Deuteronomy 31:24-26 differ; some of our Sages say that the Torah scroll was placed on a shelf inside/outside the ark, or in the ark next to one side). What was on top of the ark, guarding the Torah? Once again, cherubs. Rabbi Kahn writes: “The first mention of cherubs in the Torah is in the verse describing the eviction of man from the Garden of Eden…As a result of man’s sin, the cherubs enter the world, in order to protect the Tree of Life. We have noted the identification between the Tree of Life and the Torah. It is therefore interesting to note that in the Ark the cherubs protect the Ark which contains the Torah, and in Eden the cherubs protected the path leading to the Tree of Life/Torah. Interesting as this similarity is, it does not enlighten us regarding the essence of the cherubs. Before the sin of Adam and Eve, the cherubs were unnecessary; they appear only as a result of the sin. Perhaps we may draw the following conclusion - the cherubs represent none other than Adam and Eve themselves, young and innocent and naked in the Garden of Eden. Only as a result of their sin did they become aware of, and embarrassed by, their nakedness. The new, “sophisticated” perspective of Adam and Eve, born of partaking of the forbidden fruit, gave them a different, perhaps distorted view of the world. After the sin, they knew that they were naked; they needed to clothe themselves, to hide from God. It is fascinating that the Hebrew word for clothing is beged, which shares the same room as the word “rebellion.” The clothing which man wears is a memorial to rebellion and the resultant distancing from God…At the top of the ark, in place of this jaded couple, pathetically attempting to hide from God, now stood an innocent looking couple, representing Adam and Eve before the sin in a state of total innocence before God. Specifically from this place would the word of God emerge and reverberate…The two cherubs were made of one piece of gold, just as Adam and Eve were initially joined together as one. The cherubs therefore symbolize the ultimate return to one’s self.”

Thus, by clinging to the Torah (which we must now obtain through effort & struggle) we can re-attain our lost innocence and spiritual purity. Armed with the Torah, we (like Moses at the burning bush) need not fear the snake/yetzer hara

According to Judaism, what is G-d’s purpose and plan for mankind?

To live in accordance with the Torah, as it pertains to Jews & to non-Jews & to thus become His partners in perfecting the world (see beingjewish.com/basics/whycreate.html).

I know that you believe G-d is eternal and created the universe from nothing (ex-nihilo). Was this always taught right from the beginning and do you have references for this?

Correct and yes, I think so; see aish.com/spirituality/philosophy/Maimonides_Fourth_Principle_Ex_Nihilo.asp &
ohr.edu/yhiy/article.php/933.

(cont.)


#9

(cont.)

While we do believe that God created yesh from ayin (literally: “there is” from “there is not”), there is also a tradition that God made & destroyed (many?) worlds before He created this one. However, this really isn’t relevant to us here-and-now. The first letter in the Bible (in the original Hebrew), i.e. the first letter in the Book of Genesis, is a bet (which is actually the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet). It is shaped like a squared-off C, but opening to the left. Thus, it is closed on three sides (top, bottom & right) and open on only one, left (see jewfaq.org/alephbet.htm#Letters). Hebrew (like Arabic) reads from right-to-left, which means that left represents forward (while right represents backward). Our Sages say that the Torah begins with a bet because it is telling us that we should not concern ourselves with what is above (the bet is closed there), what is below (it’s closed there too), or what came before (closed again), rather we must look forward (the bet is open that way).

Howzat?

Be well!

ssv :wave:


#10

I have recently been re-reading the Pentateuch and I can’t imagine that Judaism does not believe in something like Original Sin! Just the constant tendency toward sinfulness shown in Exodus alone would be enough to demonstrate it. It is all pervasive, it is the human condition, that’s why all the elaborate sacrifices.

So what if they don’t exactly call it Original Sin?


#11

:nope: It has no place in Judaism. For more information, please read: aish.com/torahportion/mayanot/First_War_of_the_Worlds.asp

If you want to know what Jews feel or believe, ask a Jew or check out a Jewish website. Aish HaTorah( www.aish.com) is very excellent. When I first made the decision to become a Jew, I found this website and it has been invaluable in my life.

Bat-Ami


#12

[quote=reen12]Good morning, stillsmallvoice!

I’ll be sure to read the information you indicated.

stillsmallvoice, I’m in a precarious position,
theologically.
I’m coming to realize, with growing alarm, that
my mind and heart are much more compatible
with Judaism. This has been an ongoing
process over many years.

Here’s the real problem, as I see it:

I could not convert to Judaism, because every
time a prayer was said concerning the coming
of the Messiah, I’d be thinking: “There’s a good
chance that He’s already come” and I would
feel that I was showing false colors, so to speak.

If Jesus was the Messiah, I don’t want to deny Him.
Bear with me, I’m thinking this through…
I guess I just don’t want to relate to God through
Jesus, even if He *is *the Messiah.
[Oh, my aching head and heart.]

Any thoughts, good person?
reen12
[/quote]

hello dear reen!

Nice to see you again.

I’m with you on this. I am much more inclined to agree with Judaism more so than my Christian upbringing. Some reasons for this:

a.Christian concept of hell - disagree
b.Jewish concept of judged for right and wrongs personally done - agree
c.Jewish concept of all mankind belong to God-agree
d.Christian concept of a God-man suffering and putting himself in place of the created man - disagree (pagan similarities)

I always thought it “unfair” for the sin of Adam and Eve to taint all of creation and cause my personal sin and need for salvation. I’m glad you brought up this topic.

Peace to you my friend.


#13

[quote=Tmaque]This is taken from one of SSV’s links:

"While Judaism and Christianity both affirm this doctrine of the inherent value and equality of all human life, they do have different views of man. **Christianity maintains that all men after Adam are inherently sinful and in need of God’s enabling grace in order to be good. Sin, in other words, is part and parcel of the human condition. **
Judaism, by contrast, affirms that,

**man is inherently pure and good, **
sin is an inclination or deed, and,
man has the ability to resist sin and initiate his own return to God Who, in turn, responds with grace."

I disagree with the statement that Christians believe that all men are “in need of God’s enabling grace in order to be good.”
[/quote]

For a Christian this is inadequate - because we are in constant need of God’s grace, in every moment of our existence.

Otherwise one is left with the idea that it is possible, sometimes at least, to do good in our own strength without God’s help.
Every moment of our existence should be ordered to God - and God alone can secure this. So every moment of our existence must be present to God. To say otherwise, is to leave room for the idea that we are not entirely ordered to God, that we can in fact withhold some parts of our being & activity from God. It is IOW to preach a “Christianity of gaps” - bits of human existence are for the Christian, not for God; bits, are for God. Which does not accord with either Testament, nor with the example of Christ, Whose entire existence on earth was utterly devoted to His Heavenly Father. Since such utter devotion is beyond our capacities if we consider only our inborn power, we need the life of grace as our vital principle. And just as biological life is not interrupted, so neither is the life of grace to be interrupted. So yet again, we cannot for one instant live “in Christ” without having His Life in us; and this is for creatures (which we are) nothing else but to live always by grace ##

There are plenty of good people that were simply taught to be good people. It’s not as if we think human beings are nothing but depraved animals before baptism. Men can be taught to be good, caring, individuals.

Christians believe something other than that. The apostle Paul tells us that “Therefore just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). One can choose to agree or disagree with that view of the human condition. Is Paul right, are all people inclined towards sin?

Judging from my own life experiences and from my observations of human nature in general, I agree with Paul. Indeed, any psychologist will tell you that children are born inherently selfish. They have to be taught to be loving, kind, and to think of others. These things do not come naturally. Without proper examples and instruction children can, and do, grow up to be incredibly selfish, ungodly people. That, of course, is just my opinion.

That said, I too, feel drawn to Judaism. It is certainly the bedrock on which my Catholic faith rests, and I have tremendous respect for that tradition. Reen, you may want to explore the journeys of some of the Jewish people who became Catholic. I would imagine that you would want to see what they went through, what their thought process was. Here’s a website with many resources:

hebrewcatholic.org/

There are also books that deal with the same thing written by Roy Schoeman, Rosalind Moss and others. God bless you.


#14

Hi, ahimsaman, my good friend!

I understand exactly what you’re saying.

The conundrum in all of this, for me, is the
following:

There’s no way on earth that I will be able
to say: Yeshua of Nazareth is not
*Messiah. *I don’t know that He is, but He
may very well be.

Even if there are pagan beliefs [Isis and Osiris?]
that parallel Christian salvation history, that
does not trouble me.

What troubles me is not Jesus of Nazareth,
but the endless flow of words that have filled
the centuries…defining what might have been more
wisely left alone…ie purgatory,
limbo, original sin, Marian dogmas,
sacramental ‘system’.
[for instance: isn’t it possible to honor Mary without
"speculating" more about her than the
gospels provide? and then calling those
speculations “dogmas”…and, no, I’m

  • not adopting “sola scriptura” any time
    soon!"]
    But it’s the definition of original sin that
    sets in motion a panoply of other doctrines and
    dogmas. I didn’t believe it when I was 12 and
    I don’t believe it now.
    Grand to hear from you, ahimsaman,

reen12


#15

[quote=Gottle of Geer]## For a Christian this is inadequate - because we are in constant need of God’s grace, in every moment of our existence.
Otherwise one is left with the idea that it is possible, sometimes at least, to do good in our own strength without God’s help.
Every moment of our existence should be ordered to God - and God alone can secure this. So every moment of our existence must be present to God. To say otherwise, is to leave room for the idea that we are not entirely ordered to God, that we can in fact withhold some parts of our being & activity from God. It is IOW to preach a “Christianity of gaps” - bits of human existence are for the Christian, not for God; bits, are for God. Which does not accord with either Testament, nor with the example of Christ, Whose entire existence on earth was utterly devoted to His Heavenly Father. Since such utter devotion is beyond our capacities if we consider only our inborn power, we need the life of grace as our vital principle. And just as biological life is not interrupted, so neither is the life of grace to be interrupted. So yet again, we cannot for one instant live “in Christ” without having His Life in us; and this is for creatures (which we are) nothing else but to live always by grace ##
[/quote]

Michael,

I think you misunderstood. I’m not speaking of our reliance on God for our existence. I’m speaking about sanctifying grace. The kind that comes with the sacraments. Surely you don’t think that there are no good non-Catholics! That was the essence of the statement I was refuting.


#16

quote=stillsmallvoice

While we do believe that God created yesh from ayin (literally: “there is” from “there is not”), there is also a tradition that God made & destroyed (many?) worlds before He created this one. However, this really isn’t relevant to us here-and-now. The first letter in the Bible (in the original Hebrew), i.e. the first letter in the Book of Genesis, is a bet (which is actually the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet). It is shaped like a squared-off C, but opening to the left. Thus, it is closed on three sides (top, bottom & right) and open on only one, left (see jewfaq.org/alephbet.htm#Letters). Hebrew (like Arabic) reads from right-to-left, which means that left represents forward (while right represents backward). Our Sages say that the Torah begins with a bet because it is telling us that we should not concern ourselves with what is above (the bet is closed there), what is below (it’s closed there too), or what came before (closed again), rather we must look forward (the bet is open that way).

Howzat?

Be well!

ssv :wave:
[/quote]

SSV,

Thanks. Very informative and helpful.


#17

Indeed, in guilt I was born, and in sin my mother conceived me.
Psalm 51:7


#18

[quote=reen12]Hi, ahimsaman, my good friend!

I understand exactly what you’re saying.

The conundrum in all of this, for me, is the
following:

There’s no way on earth that I will be able
to say: Yeshua of Nazareth is not
*Messiah. *I don’t know that He is, but He
may very well be.

Even if there are pagan beliefs [Isis and Osiris?]
that parallel Christian salvation history, that
does not trouble me.

What troubles me is not Jesus of Nazareth,
but the endless flow of words that have filled
the centuries…defining what might have been more
wisely left alone…ie purgatory,
limbo, original sin, Marian dogmas,
sacramental ‘system’.
[for instance: isn’t it possible to honor Mary without
"speculating" more about her than the
gospels provide? and then calling those
speculations “dogmas”…and, no, I’m
*not
[/quote]

adopting “sola scriptura” any time
soon!"]
But it’s the definition of original sin that
sets in motion a panoply of other doctrines and
dogmas. I didn’t believe it when I was 12 and
I don’t believe it now.
Grand to hear from you, ahimsaman,

reen12
hello again my friend. Yes, I am the same way. It’s difficult for me to absolutely say - Jesus is not the Messiah. But, it is easy to say God is one and not divisible. There’s the personal feelings for Jesus because he has been part of me my whole life. But then there’s God the Father. What about Him? If Jesus is not the Messiah then we are worshipping a false god - breaking the very first commandment which both Jews and Christians believe is still binding on us all. Just this morning I was contemplating Jesus - his role in God’s plans. I could accept him as a prophet perhaps, but as God it is certainly hard.

Now, enough wandering thoughts - sorry.

Yes, why the incessant dogmatizing about things that are better left alone - Marian dogmas, purgatory and the like? Judaism is quite the opposite. Many things are not dogma. They are left to opinion. I saw one poster say, “Two Jews, three opinions”. I thought that was quite funny. I mean no disrespect of course. But, it seems to be really true. I have visitied www.jewfaq.org quite often and was very surprised to see how much was dogma and how much was left to the individual to sort out. That makes sense to me.

Peace and blessings to you…


#19

Hi, ahimsaman,

Let’s hear it for “wandering thoughts”!

A wonderful post, and heart warming to find
another who worries about breaking the first
commandment if Jesus of Nazareth is not
the Son of God. “Hear, O Israel, the Lord
our God, the Lord is One.”

Will you please give the following some thought
and let me know your assessment of same?
I think it was C.S. Lewis who said that
settling for accepting Jesus as a great prophet
was untenable…because the gospels report
that Jesus called Himself God: “He who sees
Me, sees the Father.” Or, His response when
Peter says: Thou art the Christ [the anointed,
the messiah], the Son of the living God." ie.
heaven has revealed this to you [Peter].

So, according to Lewis, if Jesus is not the
Son of God, the second Person of the Trinity,
then He was simply deluded.
That put to rest any thoughts I may have
entertained about accepting Christ in any way
other than the assertions that He puts forth.

Any thoughts?
reen12


#20

Well since the Jewish people dont believe in Hell, as most Vatican II catholics no longer believe in either, why should they worry about Original Sin? They obviously dont get baptised to wash away Original sin. All they really have to do is on Yom Kippur atone for whatever sins they committed for the past 364 days and like magic-cleansed. Forget about Confession, forget about the 7 deadly sins, forget about charity, they are cleansed. And you want to keep hearing the Vatican and Vatican II say we are so much alike? That is in direct defiance to what the Apostles taught and why they did away with many of the Jewish teachings and rituals. But then again-this is the New and Better Post Vatican II church-we are Now “Up with the Times”

The first Yom Kippur took place after Moses returned from his second trip to Mt. Sinai with the replacement set of tablets containing the Ten Commandments. He had broken the original set when he returned the first time to discover the children of Israel worshipping a golden calf rather than G-d, who brought them out from Egypt.

Moses successfully pleaded with G-d on their behalf, and on the first of Elul, he ascended the mountain, this time for a second set of tablets. In Moses’ absence, the nation fasted from sunrise to sunset. Moses descended the mountain on the tenth of Tishri. Upon returning, Moses found the nation truly repentant and announced that G-d had forgiven them. He decreed that the tenth of Tishri would remain a day of atonement for all generations.

And this shall be an eternal law for you. Each year on the tenth day of the seventh month you must fast and do no work. This is true of the native born and of the proselyte who comes to join you. This is because on this day you shall have all your sins atoned, so that you will be cleansed. Before G-d you will be cleansed of your sins. It is a Sabbath of Sabbaths to you, and a day upon which you must fast. This is a law for all time. (Leviticus 16:29-31)

[quote=reen12]Would someone please explain to me what the

Jewish view is on what Catholics call Original
Sin?

And where was the idea of original sin first put
forth and by whom within Catholicism?

I’ve been wrestling with doubt about this
doctrine for over 45 years.
Thanks,
reen12
[/quote]


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