In Pirkei Avos, it mentions a תנא called בן בג בג.

Why is the תנא - בן בג בג called בן בג בג?

  • 2
    Maybe because that was his name?
    – Double AA
    May 31, 2023 at 1:07
  • Both ben Bag Bag and ben He He are leaving them anonymous but indicating that they are converts. The references are to the letter Heh added to Avraham Avinu's name from his wife Sarah. She started as Sarai שרי and he was Avram אברם. The letter Yud from Sarai's name was divided between the two of them becoming שרה and אברהם. The two of them brought many people to serve G-d and to become a part of their household. For this, all Jewish converts are called by their names. Jun 1, 2023 at 18:16
  • His personal name was actually Yochanan. Bag Bag was a nickname of sorts, there have been several different suggestions for the meanings, some have been brought in the answers below.
    – Harel13
    Jun 1, 2023 at 19:11

2 Answers 2


Tosfos Chagiga 9B explains that he was a convert, and the gematria of bag bag is 5 and 5 representing the Heh added to Avraham and Sarah, the parents of all converts:

בר הי הי להלל. יש מפרשים שגר היה והיינו בן אברהם ושרה שנתוסף ה"א בשמן וכן בג בג דכולה הגמרא עולה ה':

  • thank you so much! May 31, 2023 at 21:44
  • + the word "בג" can also stand for בן גר! Jun 1, 2023 at 1:32

I don't recall the source right now (it might have been the 'Arukh), but it is said to be an acronym (ב.ג.ב.ג.) for בן גר בן גיורת (son of male convert son of a female convert). The name was intended to protect his/his family's identity at a time under the Romans when it would have been considered to be a capital offense to convert to Judaism.

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