“A righteous person will flourish like a date-palm, grow tall like a cedar in Lebanon.” (Psalms 92:13)

There are two types of tzadikim (righteous people), and both are perfectly righteous. The difference between them is as follows:

One is in a continuous state of deveikut (attachment) to God and performs the service incumbent upon him. He is a tzadik, however, just for himself, and not for others. That is, he does not make his righteousness affect others. He is the one who is compared to a cedar of which our sages, of blessed memory, said that it does not bear fruits. (Taanit 25b) For he is a tzadik just to himself and does not produce fruits, i.e., bringing others back to goodness so that tzadikim may multiply and be fruitful in the world. He is concerned but about himself, to “grow tall” and enhance his reward.

The second type of tzadik is compared to a date-palm, which produces fruits: “he will flourish like a date-palm,” that is, he “brings out the precious from the vile” (Jeremiah 15:19), he causes goodness to flourish and multiply in the world.

Our sages, of blessed memory, thus said that “the perfect tzadikim cannot stand in the place where the baalei teshuvah (penitent) stand.” (Berachot 34b) That is, this second type of tzadik is called baal teshuvah, i.e., he is the proprietor and master of teshuvah. 1 For he restores others to goodness, “turned many away from iniquity” (Malachi 2:6), and effected teshuvah in the world. His reward is doubled and redoubled far beyond that of the first type of tzadik, 2 though the latter, too, is perfectly righteous. 3