FRIWAFTT or Still Writing

On one of our family boat trips in the Pacific Northwest, we were deciding whether or not to travel a passage that was described as stunning but needing cautious navigation, when my husband blurted out, “F.R.I.W.A.F.T.T.” Responding to questioning looks, he explained to our family, “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.”

That pretty much explains why I want to continue the discussion about the racial crisis roiling our country. It certainly would be easier to write a Musing about a book I have read, about summer’s approach, or about ZOOM friendships, but it would be cowardly. Like most people, I find it uncomfortable to be disliked, especially by those who previously liked me. It pains me to know that my words are a source of pain to others. Yet, I am going to write. Let me first explain why I started writing my Musings.

I loved being pregnant. Whatever I was doing, whether it was eating or sleeping, reading or daydreaming, I was being productive. How can you beat the accomplishment of, “Take a nap and build a kidney!” As a mother, and particularly as a homeschooling mother, I had no questions about whether I was engaged in a worthwhile activity. Partnering with my husband and God to produce human beings whose presence would make the world a better place seemed an eminently profitable endeavor.

Along the way, I also taught adult Bible classes, supported my husband’s work both in the Jewish community and outside of it, welcomed hundreds (thousands?) of people to our Shabbat table and stood alongside friends as they built their own homes and families.

One day, as inconspicuously yet dramatically as the sky lightens in the morning, many of those roles had disappeared or minimized. What was I to do now? I discovered that I had absorbed a great deal of wisdom along the way and that, perhaps, I could use that on a larger scale than before to benefit others in a world that seemed increasingly confused and wrong-headed.

Doing so entails risk. One of the major perils is being wrong or, of being right but expressing those ideas in the wrong way. Surely, one can do less harm by just staying quiet? The Bible rejects that argument. While there are innumerable rules defining incorrect speech and warnings about misusing one’s tongue, withdrawing from society and staying quiet when words and actions are needed is not a preferred choice. When I chalk up the gifts God granted me, they include a certain ability to formulate thoughts and express ideas with words. At a time when I do feel that the promise of America is being closed off, choosing to ignore that gift is not an option.

I know that the minute a Musing touches on the issue of race, some readers feel alienated and reject both my words and me. There are many wounds out there and ripping off the bandage hurts. But not ripping it off allows the infection to fester. Our society is being pushed, pell-mell, to do something—anything. We did that with health-care and other issues as well. The result is often less fairness, more pain and more suffering. So staying quiet isn’t an option.

My hope is that others will engage with me, letting us both expand our understanding. I appreciate that many have done so. As a female and a Jew, I don’t accept the argument that only Jews can speak about Jews and only women can speak about women. Similarly, I don’t accept the idea that only dark-skinned people can speak about race. If that were all true, we would need to separate all human beings from one another, because none of us share the same experiences, backgrounds and identities. We would need to go back to measuring percentages of racial make-up and to defining ourselves by material rather than spiritual criteria. The trick is to communicate and relate despite our differences, not to use those differences as excuses for alienation.

Having said that, I find it interesting that there are many Black voices being raised that do not agree with the agenda of BLM, but they are being silenced and hidden. You have to put in the effort to find those voices whereas Leftist voices get front-page treatment. (Here are three examples of counter-PC views: and, There are many more articles and videos for those who look.

After that rather long introduction, here goes.

In the past week, I heard from two friends (one Black and one White—and I hate that I need to describe them as such) as to why they support the phrase, “Black Lives Matter.” While I think that I could have a polite discussion with each of them as to whether or not that is a good phrase to champion, I don’t actually think that opportunity exists anymore. Because there is an organization called Black Lives Matter, using the phrase provides support to that organization whether it is intended to do so or not. Making support for that organization the defining feature of a person’s character seems counterproductive to me.

My grandfather was a kind and gentle man. He valued other people and went out of his way to show appreciation for all. Once, towards the end of his life when I was visiting him in the hospital, a cleaner, a Black man, came in to mop the floor. My grandfather conversed with the man and thanked him. After the man left, my grandfather said to me, “We need to thank everyone who does something for us no matter how big or small that thing is.”

Yet, this same grandfather often used the word “shvartze” to identify a black person. An immigrant to America, he occasionally lapsed into Yiddish and in Yiddish, the word “shvartze” means black. My grandfather used that word in exactly the same way that he would have identified someone as a redhead or tall or wearing glasses. “See if you can ask the shvartze nurse for some more water.” There was zero malicious intent or judgment in his words.

Over the years, that word has taken on the connotation of a slur. If someone in my generation uses it, good people need to object. Why and how it turned into a slur is irrelevant. The fact that it technically means ‘black’ is irrelevant. What matters is that good people should neither use that word nor allow others to use it.

I can hear the argument that the phrase “Black Lives Matters” in and of itself has value. In my mind, that is now irrelevant. Intentionally or not, regretfully or not, it has been tainted by association with approval of violence, promoting hatred based on race, opposing traditional family and society and expressing more of a desire for revenge than for rapprochement. There were many peaceful protests over these past weeks. They received very little press. If the Black Lives Matters organization had been front and center condemning and opposing violence and looting, I would have a different opinion of them. If everyone who wore a “Black Lives Matter” t-shirt had stood to protect lives and property, I would have a different opinion. Maybe in some localities, they did—if you have specific examples to relate, I’d like to hear of them. If they rejected and stood against Antifa, I might have a different opinion. If I knew where the enormous sums BLM is receiving were going and approved of those efforts and places, I might have a different opinion.

I don’t think all—or most—of the people chanting the slogan or joining marches where that phrase is given center stage support anarchy or the end of having local police forces, just as I don’t think that my grandfather looked down on anyone when he spoke. I do think many supporting BLM are good people who are hurting, but I think they are being manipulated and will be among those who suffer if BLM gets more power. History is full of similar examples. In this case, those words are muddying the waters and causing unproductive distance rather than leading to solutions and progress. The phrase has become an albatross rather than a dove.

A few years ago, anarchy was let loose on city streets and violence and looting erupted through the vehicle of the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement. The immoral participants were largely White. Along with many others, I was appalled at both the behavior of the rioters and the cowardice and sniveling acquiescence of politicians, pundits and academics as they genuflected before uncivil and illegal behavior. Lives were lost and much property was destroyed.

When similar behavior but under other auspices is taking place today, do I have to ignore it because it is being done under the banner of “justice” or “against racism”? Or because a larger percentage of the hoodlums (though by no means all) are dark-skinned?

A discussion of injustice and of racism needs to be just that—a discussion. Unpleasant truths on all sides need to be aired. When some voices are muted by being fired from their jobs for presenting facts or they are threatened with violence, no good person’s cause is being advanced. When statistics are manipulated and when inflammatory rhetoric incites anger, no good person’s cause is being advanced. When uncomfortable questions are forbidden and when destroying people’s livelihoods replaces arguments, no good person’s cause is being advanced. 

I believe that most Americans want to live among people who share their values. Overwhelmingly, those values include a belief that excessive and prejudicial  (let alone illegal) force by police is wrong. Overwhelmingly, those values include a respect for law and order. If we cannot understand who, in the short space of a few days, manipulated us as a nation that shares a common ground of being horrified at what happened to George Floyd, to a people divided and facing the specter of destroying our civilization, we face a future that is bleak indeed. For that reason, I keep writing.

46 thoughts on “FRIWAFTT or Still Writing”

  1. I am late reading this in its entirety. I have always heard the Caribbean phrase “He who feels it knows it.”
    I thought the BLM movement was about the injustices mostly (if not all) amid the the killing of unarmed blacks in America by police officers. Someone from another race showed me something on the internet that BLM was started by a gay, black woman who is a Marxist. What? I am not sure what her sexual orientation has to do with her political affiliation. It just seem like those two are not in harmony with one another. I don’t know what is truth and what is propaganda

    Tell you the truth I have recently started to hear about white privileges. I hope I am not naive and I am not denying that America is a prejudice place. Through the history of America there have always been movements. In the early days there were the Women’s Rights Movement led by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Civil Right Movement etc. etc. I am now looking back and I am wondering if it is because I was around other Caribbean people and they never saw the bias because they were too simple minded or was too busy working two jobs to fulfill the American dream. I remember hearing this black woman on television talked about how when a black person is in close proximity, the white person would clutch the pocket book. It just totally went over my head. I remember several years ago I came to Texas to visit a close relative and we went to the mall. I went shopping in Macys and then I said I will take a walk in Nordstrom.
    It was indeed a pleasant experience, no one followed me around the store like what I have heard, in fact a stork clerk asked me if I found everything I need but I was still looking. Of course that was my experience. It was a good one. We all know how pricey Nordstrom is. I have friends that are professionals, they at times shop in expensive stores, I have been with some of them and it was all good. This is our experiences. Everyone walks on a different path. I believe everyone should be treated fairly, working class, poor and wealthy. Jesus said it best “If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,”

  2. Very well put! As always I thoroughly enjoy reading your Musings, and Rabbi Lapin’s articles!!! Shalom!

  3. Words and phrases in some cases evolve to carry more meaning based on how they are used. The example you use here with your Grandfather, the yiddish word for black and black lives matter is fantastic. I believe black lives matter in the pure definition of the phrase, but I don’t use the phrase because of all the associations that go with it. Your post was like a cool sea breeze on hot and humid day.

  4. This column is precisely why I love your second career as a writer. Your insight is reasoned, thoughful and focused and I thank you for honesty. I join you in the effort to engage with those who heretofore have not been exposed to anything but MSM propaganda. God bless and God speed, Susan.

  5. Thank you for speaking out, Susan. There are so many of us who agree with you. We are told to shut up and then black-listed if we express our viewpoint. It has been grievous to watch neighbor turn against neighbor. Social media is doing its best to put anyone out of business who doesn’t post a Black Lives Matter banner. We are watching them do everything they say they stand against. Our family is daily grieved to watch the hate and cruelty spewed out. What they are doing to law enforcement is unbelievable. There are bad people in every profession, color or group, but there is no sanity in those condemning the entire police force. It is my prayer that we who know what is right and good will speak up and not remain silent. Some of the best people I know are in law enforcement. They love their country and their community. I am so thankful they are willing to put their lives on the line for us!

  6. Amen! and I would like to point out that when I googled Candace Owens I did not see a truthful listing about her but rather an entire page of “anti-Candace” articles.

    We are no longer in a time of honesty and integrity in journalism/news. Which makes your honest writing even more critical.

  7. I take this opportunity to point out that so many of today’s radicals use words for which they don’t know the dictionary definitions. The most ill used of these is the word “racism,” when they should have used “bigotry,” and that is an important distinction.
    Racism is a belief, a PERSONAL belief, in the superiority, or inferiority, of one race compared to another. It therefore CANNOT be a characteristic of an entire group, an organization, or of an inanimate object. SOURCE: 1950’s university sociology textbook.

    Racism is ALWAYS something that exists only in the mind of the individual beholder….. NOT in an inanimate object…. AND…. NOT in GROUPS of people. More importantly it is an evaluation that the beholder CHOOSES to adopt.

  8. The truth sometimes hurts, BUT it doesn’t change the truth. Speak from the Torah and you shall always be correct no matter what others say.
    Mark, is she on the West Coast? Social Worker? No need to respond.

    1. James — No, she is on the East Coast and she is not a social worker. I am the one on the West Coast.

  9. It is very disappointing to see the views you are taking on this matter. I went through the links you posted here and have to express utter disappointment at those too. Have you even done your research on Candace whose voice you use championing your cause here? I cannot believe I will be saying this but I believe you are way too oprivileged to be able to feel the pains of Balck people. People like Candace, who betray their own kind, deliberately miss the point. Nobody is making George Floyd into a Martyr, we are protesting the willful killing of the black man!! Why is that so difficult for you to grasp. Your husband is from South Africa, don’t you know the history and story of the bloodshed there? Do you not see a similar pattern in the US and every other places where the white supremacist plant their feet? Why are you ignoring these blatant obvoius facts and truths. You really should check your sources before using them: (link removed, but people can do searches on their own.)
    Candace is a fraud and so is the dumb ass cop you used. I am a US trained attorney, I have never been arrested by the police nor faced any discrimination to that extent in the US. I am a Nigerian and spent years in the US UK, Germany and Australia and I know that that although I have been lucky or “privileged” there is outright racism against the black man and there are plans in place to eradicate our very existence. You cannot tell me that you know nothing about Eugenics and its current form today family planning. You cannot tell me that you do not see that several African countries are still under oppression of the US/UK/France. If you genuinely do not know these things, then it is time to do your research. We are constantly reminded and educated in Germany of how bad it is was to kill Jews, people distance themselves from Hitler’s acts and yet in the US, your government has never taken similar steps to condemn slavery or racism, rather one must hear or listen to people like you who, under the pretext of liberalism, continue to support the systemic racism against black lives. You have major black people too who even support that, like the people in your links. How is it even possible that we need to tell you the importance of our lives. Your entire sustenacne was built on our backs. I am very disappointed with you and I am disgusted by your stance in this matter. Does the bible you read support oppression? Should e continue to enslave each other? That is even still better than what eugenics did to us, how can you not see that?????

    1. Tim, I really don’t know where to begin with your comments. I have questions on just about every line. So I will let them stand so others can read them.

      1. Susan, I’m with you. I can’t imagine anyone saying the U.S. has never condemned slavery or racism. Both have been proclaimed as wrong and an evil part of our collective history all of my 45 years. I am thankful for your thoughtful input as always.

    2. Tim, the Bible says in Genesis that God said, Let us make man in or image. Therefore, we are all made in His image, whether it is a white person, black, brown etc. In God’s eyes, there is one race-the human race. You mentioned Eugenics. I’m sure you have heard of Margret Sanger. Planned Parenthood is based on her writings. She was pro-abortion with the intent of eliminating blacks. I’m sure your’re aware the Left, Democrats & that ilk revere Planned Parenthood.
      I saw a video clip last week on the news where a BLM person asked a white woman to kneel and apologize for being white and her “white privilege”. Since I believe we are all made in the image of God, I will not apologize for being born white. I will not apologize for being born a male. I will not kneel to the demand of a BLM. I will (and do) kneel to my Lord and Savior Jesus/Yeshua. If a BLM person wants to kneel in Prayer, I will do that. But I will not apologize for how God made me. And neither should you or anyone else.
      As to some of your other points, it would not be fruitful to try and counter them.
      One last comment, though. BLM has morphed into a left-wing fascist group. When the time is right, BLM will turn on their twenty-something white liberals, too.

  10. Hi Susan,
    Consider the fact that some smart sleuthing by Raheem Kassam and Natalie Winters at The National Pulse shows the donations made to Black Lives Matter actually go to ActBlue. From there ActBlue takes those contributions and sends them forward to the Joe Biden Campaign. This ‘splains a few things that we’ve been witnessing in the MSM not least of which is the acquiescence of the DNC writ large to the BLM movement. Evidence is now emerging that (as usual), Americans of African ancestry are being exploited by the leftist power-elite to advance their power, profit and control.

    1. Peter, I saw those reports about the money going to the Biden campaign but I didn’t have time to check it out. One of the major problems today is knowing whose info to trust. However-and this is really important. I don’t believe that any thinking person thinks Joe Biden is the answer to anything. However, he could be a perfect puppet. While I usually reject comparisons to Nazi Germany, we have seen this game before. The Germans elected an old man as Chancellor of Germany – Von Hindenberg, partially as a check on the new, crazy guy on the scene, Hitler. It was very quick when Von Hindenberg was gone and guess who was in his place?

      1. Oh what a blessing to read your musings and the comments. Finally a glimmer of hope that there are still people who have some semblance of sanity!!
        The slow drip of the sixties and government intrusion has turned into a waterfall of chaos in the mindless sheep followers and the wolves in power who are ready to feast upon them.
        I so love to read and listen to both you and Rabbi Labin and value your commitment to speaking the truth from the greatest truth story of all. G-d’s voice from his word.
        Many blessings

  11. Susan,

    I appreciate and gain something from your weekly writings. Keep at it!

    Apart from the COVID-19 virus, there seems to be a different kind of infection spreading through the population, not a physical virus, but an emotional, or even an intellectual one. Many people now seem so quick and eager to take offense, even when none was intended. I have recently experienced this is a way that genuinely hurts.

    Many years ago I had a girlfriend with whom I have always kept in touch. We didn’t last long as a couple, but have always remained friends. (I am not married and neither is she, so no complications there.) We used to live in the same city, but now are on opposite coasts. A few months ago, February I think, I sent her an email to which she responded in a way that I never would have expected. Somehow she had totally misread and misinterpreted what I had written, and accused me of insulting her, her work, and her entire career. As I read the email I could literally feel the blood draining from my face and getting light headed. To say I was shocked and appalled is an understatement. Nothing could be farther from the truth than what she accused me of. I wouldn’t insult her, her work, or her career for anything! I have always had high regard for both her and her work. She ended her reply by saying that she was “done with me.” Of course I sent a reply immediately saying that she had seriously misunderstood what I wrote, that I was horrified by how she had taken it, etcetera, etecetera, but to no avail. I have never heard from her since. Now, perhaps I wrote something in a way that opened itself to misinterpretation. I don’t know, Any of us can do that. Or maybe she somehow took a meaning from what I wrote that was based more on her own insecurities than anything I had written. I don’t know, she has cut off all communication, so I guess that is that.

    We met each 48 years ago this month. And one email I wrote, none of which was intended the way she took it, and BAM, she is “done with me.” Even if I did write in a way that could be misunderstood (and I still don’t know how that could’ve happened), why not a reply asking me if I really meant x, y, and z? No, she was “done with me.”

    I only explain all this not because my own little drama is so important, but because I have now had a personal experience with something I see happening around me with increasing frequency—all the time in fact. In the media, between people I know, every way I look, including some of the responses to your musings which, it seemed obvious to me, rather dismayingly took offense where none was intended. I can only say again, keep on writing!

    1. To Mark – Brother – you and I share the same boot. Times change and people change. My own wife left me under the same circumstances. I believe that those kinds of situations are Gods way of telling us that it is time to move on. I know I am – life is too short to hold me back.

    2. Mark, I know I sound like a broken record, but I cannot tell you how many heartbreaking stories there are on the #Walkaway site of people being rejected by their families and friends because they aren’t in lock-step with the Democratic Party or Leftism.

  12. I find it so difficult to accept the notion that “all lives matter”. Blaming the organization without looking who were culprits in writing graffiti is beyond my comprehension. If for instance we go to a restaurant with friends and order food and the waiter (lets say we are five in all) brings four plates, it is very logical to ask the waiter to bring in the last one. We can’t say there is no food at all, we are going to focus on the one who did not get food, hence “Black Lives Matter”. To quickly blame who started the organization to me is immaterial. In South Africa, every time we embarked on peaceful protests we will have agents given money by the system to invalidate a peaceful movement intended to encourage a meaningful discourse.

    1. Lucky, a number of people, like you, bring up S. Africa. I think it is hard enough to extrapolate from one American city to another and it is impossible to compare one country to another. Completely different histories and paths. As for your analogy about the plates, for decades now, Black students have gotten preference in college, Law School and Med School acceptance. None of this seems to have made a difference. Maybe it isn’t a good analogy?

  13. It was something just a few paragraphs into your musings that struck me most–where you contemplated teaching what you knew,, or being silent.
    One thing about my own community which has caused me grief is when people I knew, to whatever degree, passed away and it was only in in their obituaries that I learned of their great achievements, accomplishments, education and knowledge. It was as if upon retiring, they retired their greatness. This, to me, is not so much humility as it may be hiding one’s lamp under a basket. There had been many times that I, or others around me (like, my church) could have seriously used some of this experience and understanding.
    We should not brag, and yet, to conceal God’s gift and course for our lives (and what we learn there) takes away from those whom we could help.
    I am thankful for your musings.

  14. Well said. It seems, in our upside down culture, that if one does not notice race or skin color that is racist.

    It also seems that the protests and violence have all the appearances and practices of Marxism but with race substituted for class. The leopard tries to change his spots but just cannot.

  15. Your husband the Rabbi is right (FRIWAFTT). But so are YOU in every respect. Bravo, Ms. Susan! I applaud your righteous courage in speaking your truth, just as did JK Rowling recently, having heard quite enough, declaring that a ‘menstruating person’ used to be called a ‘woman.’ In no way was she disrespectful of the Trans-folk, however she expressed righteous concern about the inflated popularity of gender ‘adjustment’ and its woeful mis-consequences. Too many youth (inordinately females today, she says) are jumping on the TS-bandwagon today and a great many on reconsidering are doubling back with deep regret for the function of their xx-bodies forever marred by the assault of hormones spearheading the advance of xy.

    Similarly, you have expressed deep concern, how today’s youth respond to the perceived injustice in the arrest of a black man by a policeman in Minneapolis and his unfortunate demise in police arrest. Having also seen the video, I was also quite appalled, yet still I prefer to await the autopsies and their critical evaluation and the emergence of all the FACTS during court proceedings. A number of black folks in my reckoning also will not outright without all the facts support Mr. Floyd, who displayed a criminal police record, nor will they support BLM, who endorse the wholesale rise of lawlessness to further their ‘cause,’ whatever it may be. This is how a banana republic works, NOT America.

    You and I and they and Ms. Rowling as well will be vilified for our independent thinking and for not jumping on the group-think bandwagon. But it will not end well for those who have joined the throng on the BLM anarchist bandwagon. For a certain Georgie declared publicly ca. 2014, ‘the black people are easily manipulated.’ Truthfully, both black and white idealist revolutionaries are but barricade fodder in a wanton revolutionary machine. Their masters regard them as expendable pawns in the pre-game. Lenin had a name for this gang: ‘useful idiots’ to advance the cause of socialist revolution. Young folks, do you want to be used as a disposable tool? Nor do I. Caveat emptor!

    1. James, I actually was going to include JK Rowling’s article about the attacks on her because I do think they are part of the larger picture. But that would have been a dissertation instead of a Musing. I am not placing who “Georgie” in your comment is, but I think all people (myself included) are easily manipulated. It takes a lot of hard work to think for yourself and we all have limited time and resources.

      1. Well, I mean ‘George Soros’ the socialist with a finger in every pie of ‘protest’ but in an abundance of overcaution, wished to avoid being over-precise.

  16. Nice article, Susan. Ignore the critics and remember Teddy Roosevelt’s quote concerning “The Man in the Arena.”

  17. Lacey Hochleutner

    Hi Susan, thank you for this article. I’ve been thinking about all of this last few days as well. It is apparent that the United States is in another turning point socially.

    I see this can feel overwhelming to many and cause many to disengage because of a lack of perspective. It’s important we are aware of this. We do not want to get caught up in mob mentality; looking to one person, or an organization or a government entity whose vying to instill another law or change that could potentially cause more harm to others.

    As you stated, this is an opportunity for growth and we do not want violence to overshadow the opportunity for growth and peace to develop. It’s important that we as individuals are taking responsibility for our own growth, stretching to be more loving, understanding, and ready to be kind to each other. As we take individual responsibility to do this, the results are collective.

  18. Thank you for giving me words and ideas I can use to discuss this with my family and friends.

  19. Well written Susan.
    I personally promote the ALM movement….. ALL LIVES MATTER…and sincerely hope that it takes center stage in your country with people like you leading the way!

  20. I am a Christian female and know you are, “right on.” Your Musing is certainly a Thought Tool. Thanks for being you.

  21. Very well expressed. ALL lives matter including the unborn!!
    May the day come soon when the dream of Dr. King becomes reality ….Let us evaluate a person based on their CHARACTER instead of the pigment of their skin. Let’s build relationships and discuss respectfully our differences.

    1. “Staying quiet is not a option”. The faith community has stayed quiet in the past. Some are speaking up now, but are acquiescing for fear of being called racist. I really appreciate your courage and willingness to take criticism. It is time for people of faith to express biblical truths “to practice justice and love mercy”. We are told over and over to have courage and do not be afraid. We must keep walking openly and humbly with our God.

  22. I love you and your musings and your husband. Your wisdom makes me happy.
    Gail Shaw, a Christian follower.

    1. I just wanted to leave my reply here as Gail Shaw expressed what I would say.
      Thank you,
      Sharon Parker

  23. Mrs Lapin,
    What I type you know. The title the group has a not one, but two translations.
    There is the press for protection yes, yet implied is that others are enemy-like opposers. They idea of color pride is in several other people’s titles for their group. I will not list these.
    Now, The need is for equity for all. Go to the Olympics, strive for first place, and yet not degrade the others. The Race , The Group , Thee Fam, are not points of real pride if debased by their own actions
    Plain and simple.
    Thank you. Our bettering is by careful forthrightness.

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