The Midrash (Vayikra Rabba 30:12) says Hadasim refer to Jews who have good deeds but lack Torah:

וַעֲנַף עֵץ עָבֹת, אֵלּוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל, מָה הֲדַס יֵשׁ בּוֹ רֵיחַ וְאֵין בּוֹ טַעַם, כָּךְ יִשְׂרָאֵל יֵשׁ בָּהֶם שֶׁיֵּשׁ בָּהֶם מַעֲשִׂים טוֹבִים וְאֵין בָּהֶם תּוֹרָה

yet the Gemara (Sanhedrin 93a) says Hadasim refer to the righteous:

כיון שנסתכל בחנניה מישאל ועזריה נתקררה דעתו שנאמר (זכריה א, ח) והוא עומד בין ההדסים אשר במצולה ואין הדסים אלא צדיקים שנאמר (אסתר ב, ז) ויהי אומן את הדסה - Once He looked at Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah He was placated, as it is stated: “And he stood among the myrtle bushes [hadassim] that were in the depths [bametzula].” And hadassim is referring to no one but the righteous, as it is stated: “And he raised Hadassah, that is Esther, his uncle’s daughter” (Esther 2:7). Hadassah is an appellation for the righteous Esther.

How do we reconcile these two definitions of Hadasim according to Chazal?

  • 1
    Are Jews who have good deeds not righteous?
    – Double AA
    Sep 25, 2020 at 15:01
  • @DoubleAA Fair point, though the Midrash seems to be contrasting 4 different levels, the highest being esrog - מָה אֶתְרוֹג זֶה יֵשׁ בּוֹ טַעַם וְיֵשׁ בּוֹ רֵיחַ, כָּךְ יִשְׂרָאֵל יֵשׁ בָּהֶם בְּנֵי אָדָם שֶׁיֵּשׁ בָּהֶם תּוֹרָה וְיֵשׁ בָּהֶם מַעֲשִׂים טוֹבִים - which I would think refers to the righteous. It's also hard to be righteous if וְאֵין בָּהֶם תּוֹרָה
    – NJM
    Sep 25, 2020 at 16:15
  • You can be a tzadik to some degree as an am haaretz
    – TwoOs
    Sep 25, 2020 at 16:34


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