Possible Origin of Padgug Name

Written by Bob Padgug, Buffalo, NY (1999)

ancient Hebrew script

And what did Hashem say to Moses: "Say to Israel, they said it is our desire to hear from our king since it is not the same to hear from the teacher as it is from the king."

Mekhilta De Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai 19:9

ancient Hebrew script

To what is this compared? To the case where a king is angry with his son and the king brings him into an inner room and he wants to strike him. And the king yells from the room, "let me strike him.", meanwhile the tutor stands outside...

(Please note: These excerpts are from sacred texts and should be treated with respect.)

Shmot Rabbah 42:9


The two passages above are from midrashim, rabbinical writings dating to the late Talmudic period, probably 4th or 5th Century ACE. They are short passages from longer writings, explanations of portions of Scripture. I have included rough translations of each sentence but they lose most meaning when quoted out of the complete context. Note a single word is underlined in each passage. It consists of five Hebrew letters which, read from right to left, are the Hebrew equivalent of P D G V G (Pronounced in Hebrew as Pay Daled Gimel Vuv Gimel.


There would have been a strong Hellenistic influence in this period as well as in the preceding centuries. Many Greek words were adopted for use in Hebrew, often transliterated into Hebrew characters. The Greek "pedagogue" is obviously close in sound to the name PADGUG. This five letter Hebrew word appears in Hebrew dictionaries today meaning a tutor or governor. It is an archaic form found in ancient texts, rarely used today in Modern Hebrew. The earliest use of the word is not known.


Classical Hebrew has no written vowels except as noted below. The vowel sounds were correctly placed between consonants by rote memory and some consistency between certain consonant combinations. Written vowels were not used until several hundred years after these writings. The Hebrew letter vuv is also quite odd in that it sometimes has the sound of the English "v" but is also used for the vowel sounds of a long o as in tote or the "oo" sound as in smooth. The character for "P" is identical to the character for "F" again only differentiated in ancient texts by familiarity with the words themselves. It is common for ambiguities to occur between the two sounds especially when used in names. One must simply remember the correct pronunciation for the word as we do for many non-phonetic English words.


The vowels appearing in Modern Hebrew dictionaries indicate a pronunciation similar to "pedagogue". A student studying in a 19th Century Russian Yeshiva would very likely have the original text without such a specific guide to pronunciation. A wide range of possible pronunciations would be possible based simply on the ancient texts.


It would seem from the above that it is very possible for a Russian Jewish scholar to be familiar with ancient texts speaking of a pedagogue as a tutor. He might then select that word as his surname to indicate his profession, a teacher or tutor. The differences in pronunciation between pedagogue and Padgug could be explained simply by the lack of vowels in written Hebrew. The written name together with its pronunciation could have then been passed down within the family. It is even possible for more than one individual from a Yeshiva to take the name together with the same pronunciation.



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