At the end of last week’s parshah, we read about the sin committed by Zimri ben Salu. Pinchas wanted to make sure that the wrongdoing of Zimri would not bring HaShem’s anger upon Bnei Yisrael. And so rather than let Zimri continue, he risked his own life and killed Zimri.

This week’s parshah begins by telling us that HaShem rewarded Pinchas. When HaShem saw that he risked his life for the sake of the Jewish people, He told Moshe: “Pinchas turned My anger away from B’nei Yisrael.... Therefore I will give him a covenant of peace.” When praising Pinchas, HaShem calls him: “zealous.”

A zealous person puts aside concern for himself and does whatever has to be done to fulfill the will of HaShem. A person may have to risk his life in gashmiyus or make sacrifices in ruchniyus, but because he is zealous, he doesn’t think about himself. He has one thought in mind: what HaShem wants.

There is another person in the Tanach who is called “zealous” — Eliyahu Hanavi, who said: “I have been very zealous for the sake of HaShem.” Actually, our sages teach us that “Pinchas is Eliyahu,” so it is not a surprise that they were both zealous for the sake of HaShem.

When Eliyahu Hanavi said this, he also told HaShem how disturbed he was by the wrongdoings of the Jewish people. He cried out to HaShem, telling Him how many of His people had gone astray.

HaShem was not pleased to hear Eliyahu criticize B’nei Yisrael. HaShem wants us to always look for good in others. And that good is always there; we may just have to look a little harder to find it.

And so HaShem appointed Eliyahu as the Angel of the Bris, and instructed him to attend the bris milah of every Jewish child for all time to come. He would be there to see how the Jewish people are faithful to HaShem, and how they keep His mitzvos.

HaShem taught Eliyahu that a person who feels zealous should show extra measures of Ahavas Yisrael; he must always try to find merit in the Jewish people.

This became Eliyahu’s mission — pointing out the good in others and in this way, bringing people close to each other. And so when the navi Malachi describes how Eliyahu Hanavi will announce the Geulah, he says: “He will turn the hearts of fathers to the children and the hearts of children to the fathers.” And when the Rambam describes Eliyahu’s mission, he says: “He will come solely to establish peace.”

As we join together in Achdus and Ahavas Yisrael — which give us the strength to overcome the challenges of the galus — Eliyahu Hanavi will certainly be there to seek out our merits. He will point out the abundance of Ahavas Yisrael that we have, and will lose no time in announcing the coming of the Geulah.

(Adapted from Likkutei Sichos, Vol. II, p. 344ff, 609ff; Vol. IV, p. 1070ff)