I have heard in a reliable shiur that there are three crowns each Jew can have, and they are:

  1. Tzaddik
  2. Baal Teshuva
  3. Kadosh (Martyr)

However, I am unable to find the source for this. I was wondering if anyone here has any leads? The idea has personally been very important to me, so it would be nice to explore in more detail.

EDIT: Maybe the Rav misspoke and the original is not "crown", so any reference to these 3 as a group as applicable "achievements" for each Jew would be highly sought!

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    Interesting - generally speaking the initial 3 crowns concept as per pirkei avos is כֶּתֶר תּוֹרָה וְכֶתֶר כְּהֻנָּה וְכֶתֶר מַלְכוּת - sefaria.org/Pirkei_Avot.4.13?vhe=Torat_Emet_357&lang=bi
    – Dov
    Sep 29, 2022 at 13:23
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    This was your 666th answer @Dov! Thanks. Yes I have seen that. Perhaps the original lashon is not "crown". Some potential leads are reference to a prophecy I also can't find ("in the future, tzaddikim will do teshuva"). It is likely a midrash or a ma'amer.
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Sep 29, 2022 at 13:24
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    Possibly related: chabad.org/therebbe/article_cdo/aid/2299269/jewish/…
    – Dov
    Nov 14, 2022 at 17:18
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    Read section V where it jumps to the concept of martyrdom
    – Dov
    Nov 14, 2022 at 17:19
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    Rabbi Yehudah ibn Yakar gives tzaddik, chassid and kadosh. (books.google.co.il/…)
    – The GRAPKE
    Nov 14, 2022 at 17:46

2 Answers 2



In the מאמר in ספר מאמרים מלוקט ד"ה והקדשתי https://chabadlibrary.org/books/admur/mlukat/3/39/index.htm it brings from a couple different sources from likutei torah this idea.

It says that "I will become sanctified amidst the people of yisroyayl" (which, on the simple plane, is referring to mesiras nefesh), refers to how one goes out of oneself to become included in Hashem (which is the simple implication of mesiras nefesh), from below to above.

This "holiness" that's from below to above refers to the first, of three, levels of "kadosh".

Then when the verse continues "I am Hashem, who makes you holy" it refers to two (out of three) levels of "kadosh".

One is through mitzvos, and another through torah, and both are from above to below (from Hashem, who gave us them).

The difference is that through torah, one draws down Hashem's holiness in the inner part of the universes, and through mitzvos, one reveals it even in the physical world (external aspect).

It then continues, quoting from an explanation of the maamer, that the 3 times קדוש"kadosh", correspond to 3 levels of "kesser"--crown

First one (from below to above) corresponds to the highest level of kesser, even beyond chochmah

(And later explains that because it's beyond everything, in order to actually reach it, one has to go out of one's existence (mesiras nefesh), from below to above, to reach it)

The second kadosh is kesser of zeir anpin {higher levels of the Sefiros of atzilus}

(And he explains that that is like how Torah reveals the energy in the inner part of the universes, zeir annpin)

And the third kadosh is malchus (power of Hashem's speech, which makes him a king), which is sometimes itself called a "crown", even though it's the lowest level

(Which he explains corresponds to mitzvos, which reveal Hashem even in the outer aspect of the universes, and physicality, which is all made from Hashem's speech, malchus).

So basically the first crown is a different category than the other two, since the first one is reached through mesiras nefesh (below to above), being ohr hasovev, completely infinite light, while the other two are part of memale kol almin, which can be drawn down from above to below directly.

It then brings the explanation to this maamer which brings from a midrash (and a different version of the midrash that we have), that by the giving of the Torah Hashem gave us two crowns.

(Although actually in this maamer the midrash says that it's related to the angels saying 3 times "kadosh", tzareich iyun)

It says this is like an analogy of members of a city who bring a king 3 crowns.

What is a king supposed to do with 3 crowns? He takes one for himself ("puts it on his head"), and two he gives to his (two?) sons ("gives them on the head of his sons").

Then this other version of the midrash brings the verses to support this, which are (from the parsha before):

"For I am holy" -- crown he took for himself. (According to simple meaning). "And you shall sanctify yourselves", 1 crown for his sons. "And be holy", second crown for his sons

(כי קדוש אני והתקדישתם והייתם קדושים).

It then continues that our version of the midrash says that the two crowns given to his sons are :

"speak to the children of yisroyayl and say to them: be holy {for I am holy, but that's the crown he took for himself}, as one, for his sons, and the two other verses of "And you shall sanctify yourselves", and "And be holy" are both considered one crown {for his sons}

Although in the other version, seemingly the phrase "speak to.. Yisroyayl and be holy" is not counted as a crown at all (for his sons), only the continuation of "for I am holy", is counted as the crown for Himself.

Then the Rebbe explains a possible resolution to the two versions, that in the continuation of the midrash it says "יכול כמוני, {you might think that} you're able to be like me in holiness? תלמוד לומר, it teaches us {otherwise}: for I am holy; my holiness is beyond your holiness."

The tzemach tzedek asks on this, that it's תמוה "surprising" , which is explained here simply to mean it's surprising to even think that a yid can "be holy like me", since there's no comparison between Creator and creation (according to chochmah of Seder histalshiloos).

However, he then brings an explanation of the Alter Rebbe from a different discourse altogether, which explains that "your holiness" that is lower than "my holiness" refers to the "awakening from below" of the holiness that's drawn down through the Torah and Mitzvos (like what a Tzadik does), while "my holiness that's beyond your holiness" refers to an "awakening from above" which is beyond what anyone can reach through torah and Mitzvos, and can only be drawn down through teshuva.

It then explains that when the tzemach tzedek said this is "surprising", that's only relative to how a Tzadik works, in Seder histalshiloos (and the only way they can have a relevance to the first "crown" (my holiness) is through mesiras nefesh, going out of themselves, but in terms of what they can actually draw down below, it's only the Torah and Mitzvos), ohr hamemale.

However, through teshuva one becomes one with the Awtsmoos, and is even able to draw down the first crown, that He takes for Himself, below, because teshuva reveals how the essence of the soul is literally the essence of Hashem (the Awtsmoos), and through this יכול כמוני, "you are able to be like me".

Then he says that this is the difference of the two versions, that the version which counted "speak to.. And say to them to be holy" as it's own crown, then that itself is what's given to the sons (with the other two verses), but "for I am holy" Hashem takes only for himself.

But in the version which doesn't count that first verse as a crown given to his sons (and the two crowns are both from the later verses), then the phrase "(speak to the children of yisroyayl and say to them to be holy,) because I am holy" is the crown he takes for himself, but in reality that crown he takes for himself is drawn down to "the children of yisroyayl" (which is the simple meaning of ".. Because I am holy", (meaning, you should be holy just at the same level of my holiness, "because" I am holy), which is drawn down through teshuva.

It then goes in that when it says the first he took "for himself", while the other two he gave to the head of his "sons", to mean that the "souls of tzadikim" are in the level of "sons" (בנים למקום), a level of "Seder histalshiloos", while through teshuva one reveals, as mentioned, how the soul is united with the Essence of Hashem, such that even as it's "given" to a Baal Teshuva, it's still "on the head of the king".

So to answer your question, it seems this person mentioned a martyr and a Tzadik as two different levels, but here it explains that it's two different ways a Tzadik functions: 1 is mesiras nefesh from below to above to be included in the ohr hasovev, the first "crown", but in terms of his day to day life, he is mainly involved in the second and third crowns, to draw them down from above to below into the world

However the baal teshuva is the idea of drawing down even the first crown from above to below (since they are rooted in the Awtsmoos), and I don't recall if it says what they do with the other 2 crowns, but maybe it means that after teshuva, even one's torah and Mitzvos are higher

Additional thoughts:

ספר המאמרים תשע"ב explains at great length the relationship of the two crowns given at the Giving of the Torah, to the 3 crowns of "the crown of Torah, crown of priesthood, and the crown of kingship (and the crown of a good name which surpasses all of them)", along with the 3 times kadosh, so perhaps there is more elaboration found there.

Just for the record, after writing this I opened up Tanya to a random page and it was the beginning of chapter 27, just read through it and at the end it gives another explanation of the two verses regarding holiness, that:

"You shall be holy" meaning that one has to put in effort to make oneself holy, even if one in truth is not holy / "separate" from the "other side" (because a beinoni is one who still has the desire for evil etc. but still forces oneself to go against it, "make yourselves holy", through staying away from permissible things), then

"And you will be holy", because through one's effort, then one is destined to truly be "holy" and separated from evil through the help one receives from above.

Interesting that here in Tanya the Alter Rebbe says that both of these verses refer to a beinoni, unlike in likutei torah etc. where they refer to tzadikim (sons). It's hard to tell if this explanation in Tanya fits with both versions of the midrash or only one.

Also today I opened to a random page in ספר המאמרים תרס"ו, and it was the end of parshas Kesoshim, and it talked about the two levels of holiness mentioned here, that "your holiness" refers to the Sefiros of Atzilus, for reasons mentioned there, and "my holiness that is beyond your holiness", refers to either the Sefiros of Adam Kadmon, or the concept of Sefiros like they exist before the first tzimtsoom.

He explained that the difference between the simple meaning of "you shall be holy, because I am holy", is mainly related to the explanation that "I am holy" refers to the Sefiros of Adam Kadmon, which are more closely related to the Sefiros of Atzilus, so it's possible to reach them, while according to the explanation that "my holiness" refers to how the Sefiros exist before the tzimtsoom, that's where the Midrash says "{you might think that} you're able to be like me? It teaches us {otherwise:} I am holy. My holiness is beyond your holiness".

That's what it says there, so connecting it back to this discourse, "your holiness" through the Torah and Mitzvos seemingly correspond to the Sefiros of Adam Kadmon (Torah) and Atzilus (Mitzvos), which is also how a Tzadik goes about his daily life etc., the lower two "crowns" (Adam Kadmon is also called "kesser", maybe it means Atik, and the lower aspect of Kesser, Arich, the source of the ten Sefiros of Atzilus (which is really like malchus of Adam Kadmon))

While the first "crown" that a Tzadik can only reach through mesiras nefesh, and that a Baal Teshuva can draw down directly, which we said is "Sovev kol almin" seemingly corresponds to the light before the tzimtsoom, "my holiness that is beyond your holiness".

This also makes sense since generally speaking, the term "Sovev kol almin", "light that surrounds all worlds", generally refers to the light before the tzimtsoom.

If so, the idea mentioned in the shiur that one has to be reincarnated to reach all of the levels etc., might correspond to the prophecy mentioned at the end of Likutei Torah, that in the time before Moshiach, new souls will emerge that weren't even included in Adam Kadmon.

Maybe it means that these souls will have a connection to the ohr hasovev, the light before the tzimtsoom, which is reached either through mesiras nefesh of a Tzadik, or Teshuva.

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    @RabbiKaii cool no rush, let me know if you have any questions Nov 14, 2022 at 17:44
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    @RabbiKaii yeah I personally just like sounding it out exactly as it sounds, since I sometimes hear English speakers mispronounce a lot of Hebrew phrases (like "Eden" as Eedin etc) Nov 14, 2022 at 17:48
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    @noach cool. This is a side issue of a side issue, and not worth discussing further. That's the way I write it Nov 18, 2022 at 0:58
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    @rabbi hi. No Adam Kadmon. Even Adam harishon before the separation of chava is called Adam Kadmon. But yes please check, likutei torah at the end of shir hashirim Nov 18, 2022 at 3:08
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    @YakkOv yes, possibly. However, after having looked almost everywhere and asked almost everyone, this is the best lead yet, and it's exactly the kind of source that will talk about this question, I am confident you've got me finally in the right ball park. Thanks so much for your efforts
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Nov 18, 2022 at 9:16

Still haven't found an exact reference to the 3 crowns idea in those words, but to serve as an explanation of the overall idea, it says in Shaar Gilgulim 3 that the Arizal states very clearly that the generation before Moshiach will be a generation where everyone has achieved a full tikun in their nefesh, ruach and neshama. This implies that we all do indeed have the "crown of Tzaddik" (assuming we are the generation before the Moshiach - not going to get into that here), and therefore a very reasonable inference of why we are all here, now, in this current modern situation of a huge number of people who need to do some form of teshuva, that we are here to attain the "crown" of "baal teshuva".

In this gate he also reveals some information on the idea of ibur, in that the parts of our nefesh, ruach or neshama that are either already perfected, or have only a minor blemish that does not warrant gilgul, are reincarnated as ibur rather than gilgul, meaning they are not able to become blemished by any sins we do in this incarnation. So, even if some of us are here to fix a blemish, the chances are that this late in history we already have the vast majority of our nefesh, ruach and neshama perfected and untouchable, and the idea still generally applies.

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