Avot 4:17 Rabbi Shimon said: There are three crowns – the crown of Torah, the crown of priesthood, and the crown of kingship; but the crown of a good name surpasses them all.
Without the respect and affection of one’s friends and colleagues, all the glories of scholarship, priestly office or even kingship carry little meaning or worth. People seem to harbor a deep inclination to seek after positions of power and to gather for themselves accolades and titles. At the end of the day, however, what truly counts is the honor and respect one has accorded to others, even the least in the world’s eyes, for this, eventually, is what will rebound to oneself.
The famous medieval commentator, Rashi, notes that the crown of Torah is a result of study and application of God’s Word and is open and available to all. The crown of priesthood, when connected to the line of kohanim linked to Aaron and the Levitical priesthood, requires a particular lineage. Interestingly, that link can now be ascertained as a result of the breakthrough in DNA testing. In connection with the promises of God to Judah and King David, the crown of kingship also requires that particular lineage.
On the other hand, it also is our Father’s expressed will that all His people be a “kingdom of priests” and, as children of the King to also rule and reign with Him in the earth and to help bring about tikkun olam – healing to the world. Together with those sealed in His covenant, the house of Israel, we see this made clear in the book of Revelation, when the Lamb of God takes the scroll from God who is seated on the Throne (5:9-10):
And they sang a new song, saying,
“Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.”
The Scriptures describe a glorious vision and hope for what lies ahead in eternity. The question we are posed with at present is, “How does this apply to our lives here and now?”
The Hassidim [an orthodox Jewish group who worship the God of Israel and honor His Torah and believe we always should serve Him in joy] have a reference during their marriage services to the Holy Place of the Temple. The indication being that each home should be a mikdash me’at – a small sanctuary where we serve as priests of His living Temple. The words proclaimed are:
“To the south I will arrange the menorah of wisdom, to the north I will set the table with bread; With wine in the cup, and myrtle clusters (which have sweet fragrance like the altar of incense) for bridegroom and bride, the weak will be given strength. Let us make them crowns of precious words…”
Crowns of words! This refers to the blessings recited over the bride and groom and also to those spoken on Shabbat: of parents over children, of husband over wife, and on all the guests present. The concept presents a striking picture. When we speak a blessing over someone it is as if we are placing a beautiful, shining crown on their head. For this reason, the Sages and Rabbis of Israel say we should find ways to bless God one hundred times a day, for it is a way of crowning Him with many crowns!
In addition, what a good and gracious opportunity lies in our hands to place crowns of blessing upon those with whom we live, work and have interaction with in any way. We can find ways, in humility and sincerity, to convey our respect and acknowledge and esteem their worth as a precious child of God; as one who carries the spark of Divine life and all the potential inherent therein. In our consideration, appreciation and respect of the other, we can help and encourage one another in our God-ordained calling as priests and royalty in the family and Kingdom of our Father.
Pause and Reflect
While we earnestly hope and aim to earn a good reputation and name in the eyes of others, only our Father Himself knows the full story and deepest heart of each person.
It is the name He bestows upon us at the close of our journey on earth, the one that will last for eternity in His Presence, that is of ultimate and enduring value.
How can we live right now, while we are on our earthly journey, in order to earn that final crown of the blessing of a ‘good name’ from His hand?