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Ben Bag Bag

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Topic: Bag Bag, Ben

Benny Leon from Zimbabwe, Africa wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

I make 20 copies of Ohr Somayach's Ohrnet publication each week and distribute them in the synagogue. We are a small community of about two hundred souls and we hold Shabbat services every Friday night and Saturday morning. We have the sister Ashkenazi Congregation of about 400 souls.

I have a query and this refers to the Sayings of the Fathers, as printed in our prayer books. There is a reference to Ben Bag Bag and Ben Heh Heh. Please inform us -who are these gentlemen? Thank you again for your wonderful email.

Dear Benny Leon,

Ben Bag Bag's full name was Rabbi Yochanan Bag Bag. Both he and Ben Heh Heh were descendants of converts; their names were disguised to protect them from informers who would have turned them over to the Romans. Some explain that Bag Bag is an acronym for "ben ger, ben giyoret -"the son of male and female converts." It is also explained that Heh Heh refers to the first "converts," Abraham and Sarah, to each of whose names G-d added the letter Heh - Abram became Abraham, and Sarai became Sarah.

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