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What Does the Name Hadassah Mean?

What Does the Name Hadassah Mean?

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The name Hadassah (Heb. הדסה) was one of the names of Queen Esther, the heroine of the Purim story, and is now given to Jewish girls.

The name is of biblical origin, first cited in the Scroll of Esther (2:7), “And [Mordechai] had raised Hadassah, she is Esther . . .”

The name Hadassah is derived from the Hebrew word hadas (Heb. הדס), a myrtle tree from the Myrtaceae family. The myrtle has a pleasant fragrance. Rabbi Shmuel Eliezer Edels, known as Maharsha, explains that since “man is like a tree of the field.”1 therefore the righteous2 are called myrtles, likened to a good tree with a pleasant smell.3

The Talmud explains why Queen Esther was also called Hadassah:

Why was she called Hadassah? Because the righteous are called myrtles. As it states (Zechariah 1:8), “And he was standing among the myrtles [the righteous prophets Chananiah, Mishael and Azariah].”4

The sages in the Midrash take this one step further:

Just as a myrtle has a sweet smell and a bitter taste, so too Esther was good and listened (“sweet”) to the righteous Mordechai, and was adverse (“bitter”) to the wicked Haman.5

According to Kabbalah, each of her names corresponds to a different spiritual level.

The name Hadassah represents righteousness. As such, it corresponds to a heavenly sphere representing G‑d’s infinity. The name Esther (Heb. אסתר) is derived from the Hebrew word hester (Heb. הסתר), which means “hiddenness,” and corresponds to a spiritual plane representing hidden G‑dliness.

Interestingly, she is referred to by both names—seemingly opposites.

According to Chabad philosophy, calling Queen Esther by both names represents the self-sacrifice she displayed in order to save the Jewish nation. A righteous woman, she brought G‑dliness down into the physical world, where G‑dliness is concealed.

We too can connect transcendent levels of G‑dliness with our world when we choose to do something righteous instead of following our desires.6

When choosing a name for one’s child, it’s important to think about what the name represents.

On this note, the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory, told the president of a local Hadassah, an international Jewish women’s organization:

Hadassah was the name of Queen Esther, who was not afraid to live among non-Jews and to show an example of how a Jew must be proud of his or her inheritance, and to live everyday life in the same direction, with happiness and much success.7

Footnotes
1.

Deuteronomy 20:19; see Rashi on this verse.

2.

Tzaddik in Hebrew (pl. tzaddikim).

3.

Commentary of Maharsha to Talmud, Megillah 13a, s.v. al shem ha-tzaddikim.

4.

Talmud, Megillah ibid. The Talmud explains that Esther was also likened to a myrtle because of her physical appearance. The myrtle is not particularly tall or short; Esther was of average height.

5.

Esther Rabbah 6:5.

6.

Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Lubavitch (the Tzemach Tzedek), Derech Mitzvotecha, p. 159a; the Rebbe, Torat Menachem 5713, vol. 2, pp. 7ff.

Chana Raizel Zaklikowski is the proud parent of three: Motti, Meir & Shaina.
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Discussion (26)
October 8, 2016
My name is Esther. I gave myself this name when I was 13. I really can't tell how I came about it but I know God is involved. I consider myself a special person because I have a drive to always establish God's righteousness in every life I meet. One thing about Esthers, we can not be hidden.
Esther
Nigeria
May 19, 2016
I don't have a Jewish name, but a long time ago I thought if I did I'd like it to be Hadassah. Some years late when 'doing' my genealogy I found that my maternal grandmother's family had a house called 'Myrtle Villa' and that every home in the family had a myrtle tree. I now have a myrtle tree in my garden and often think of myself as Hadassah.
Phyllis 'Hadassah' Pearson
New Zealand
March 30, 2016
Got attached to her story. I want to write an antecedent to Queen Esther's tale and thought I might use Hadassah. Nice name.
Sule Anthony
Nigeria
March 20, 2016
My daughter is Hadassah. She is a fighter as Queen Esther was.
Betty Eunice
Kenya
January 11, 2016
MY GRANDDAUGHTER
My granddaughter name is Hadassah Rayne, I named her because she was left behind in hospital I toke her and she has strength like Hadassah had. God gave me her name he said she will be strong like Hadassah (Ester).
Tammy Brady
Texas
August 24, 2015
my daughter middle name is Hadassah
cheryl
February 20, 2015
I like my name as Hadassah
Hadassah Rolle
January 15, 2015
my daughter name is hadassah sarah
zipporah
May 26, 2014
Hi I added the name Hadassah to my first Hebrew name Havivah for spirtuall and healing purposes.
I have been sick for a while and a local Chabad Rabbi and his wife recommended that I add a name to my first Jewish name Havivah. I did this almost two years ago for healing and spiritual purposes. Hadassah A.K.A Malka Esther was always my hero and role model my whole life and felt this would be the perfect name to add to bring down Hadassah's bravery, courage, and healing in my life. I did this and can tell that all of the amazing qualities that the real Malka Esther had ( Hadassah) are manifesting in my life. I pray just like the real Myrle plant that grows in muddy waters and turns into a beautiful flower like the lotus in her merit and bravery I should do the same if it is G-ds will. May the real Hadassah's light and courage be an example for all of Hashem's children! Peace and Blessings
Hadassah
Brookline Ma
April 5, 2014
Thanks very much for the clarrification on this name Hadassah. My daughter's name is Hadassah and I was wondering how this name is valued. I really admire this name.
Luke Kautoga
Coral Coast, Fiji Island