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Women's Corner

"Hadassah is Esther" (Esther 2:7)

Rabbanith Ruth Menashe
Thursday, February 21, 2013/Adar 11, 5773

Though not commonly used, Queen Esther's original name was Hadassah. The name "Hadassah",  which is derived from the word Haddas (myrtle), is known for its unique fragrance, and is used on Friday nights and for Habdala on Saturday nights. The myrtle leaves, however, give their most distinct fragrance when they are crushed and rubbed.

Did you ever wonder how diamonds are formed? Apparently, diamonds (which are considered to be one of the most exquisite gems in the world) are crystals of pure carbon that form under extreme heat and crushing pressure beneath the surface of the earth! Pressure and immense heat is necessary for the formation of diamonds.

When we look closely at the life of Esther, the heroine of the Meghilla, we can perhaps understand the deep connection between the meaning of her name, Hadassah, and her essence. Like the crushed myrtle, Esther's hard life in the palace brought forth her self sacrifice and uncompromising dedication to her people. Esther, whose whole essence was her commitment to Jewish life and values was taken to Ahashuerosh's palace and became the queen of the Persian Empire against her will.

Esther spent five years in the presence of an immoral and showy king who hated her people, before she acted for the salvation of her nation. We can easily imagine that those five years were accompanied by pain and anguish. Nonetheless, they produced a myrtle - Haddas, the diamond heroine of a Jewish Lady.

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