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Confessions: Bagadnu

Exodus 21:8: “For he has dealt deceitfully with her.” “B’vigdo ba” This verse is describing a man who purchased a young girl from her father. She will work as a slave until she is twelve, at which time,

n also refuses to take her as a wife, even though the master would like to ‘sell” her to someone else to regain his investment, he may not “B’vigdo ba” he has dealt deceitfully with her.

Rashi explains that her father was also a Bogaid – one who dealt deceitfully with her. The verse uses Bogaid to describe both the father and the master. Both have betrayed an obligation: The father betrayed his basic obligation to his daughter, and the master, his obligation to marry her.

She grew up expecting her father to provide for her future. She worked for her master expecting that her status as a slave was temporary and that one day she would become his wife, the mistress of the house. The father and the master led her to believe in a certain future and then betrayed that belief.

Bagadnu addresses obligations we have betrayed, and when we have created expectations for another only to betray those expectations.

The Chizkuni compares this to Malachi 2:14: “The wife of your youth whom you have severed – Bagad.”

Bagadnu, according to the Chizkuni, describes actions and words that have severed relationships, whether with others, God, or even with parts of our selves.

The Vilna Gaon, in his commentary to Proverbs 25:19: A Bogaid is one who betrays certain norms of behavior. We expect certain behaviors from each other, such as expecting drivers to stop at a red light, or that people will not lie and cheat. The Bogaid is one who betrays those norms. Therefore, one who speaks and does not follow through with action is also called a Bogaid.

One who trusts a Bogaid will end up suffering. The ultimate Bogaid is the Yetzer Harah – the evil inclination. It promises all sorts of pleasure without consequences. Anytime I trick myself, says the Gra, I am a Bogaid!

“This isn’t Lishon Harah – Evil Speech – because it’s true!” are the words of a Bogaid, who betrays his own intentions and words: He knows that he should not say what he is about to, and yet, tricks himself by finding an excuse for it to be permissible.
Achieving Greatness

We can voice our intentions before acting in order to train ourselves to follow through on our commitments: “I will now pray.” “I will now give Tzedaka.” “I will now recite a blessing.”

We can use Hatarat Nedarim – Release from Promises – of Erev Rosh Hashana, and Kol Nidrei to renew our commitment to follow through with our commitments.

We can examine the past year for relationships we severed through speech or action, and attempt to restore at least some of the relationship.

Learn to identify when our Yetzer Harah is speaking to us. I use Churchill’s “Blackdog” strategy, which is to name my Yetzer Harah and treat it as an outsider.

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