Pinchas . . . turned My wrath away from the Children of Israel when he zealously avenged Me among them . . . Therefore say: Behold, I give him My covenant of peace. And it shall be for him, and for his offspring after him, a covenant of eternal priesthood.”

Numbers 25:11–13

Pinchas courageously took up G‑d’s cause among the Israelites. Others, too, had witnessed Zimri’s offense and provocation, including Moses, the sons of Aaron, and the elders. Pinchas himself was of junior rank in that assembly, yet he was the only one to act, thus bringing salvation to the Jewish people and obtaining a great reward for himself. This teaches us an important lesson:

Sometimes leaders remain silent in the face of certain events. This does not mean that nothing is to be done. Nor does it mean that this silence may be used as an excuse to ignore the event. On the contrary: when aware that you can do something about it, you are obligated to do so. The fact that those greater than you say nothing and remain passive may very well be because the incident has special bearing upon you. You are dealing with something that you are to correct or refine in order to achieve your personal perfection, your purpose in this world.

Moreover, our sages say that “Pinchas is (identical with the prophet) Elijah.” This expression is rather odd, because Pinchas preceded Elijah. Should it not, then, say “Elijah is Pinchas”? According to the Zohar, however, Elijah did precede Pinchas, albeit as an angel and not as a human being. This has the following implication:

As stated above, no one should pay attention to what others do or fail to do. If an opportunity arises to accomplish something, one must go ahead and do it. When wondering, “Where will I find the strength to do so?”—the answer is: “Pinchas is Elijah!” That is, when the Almighty places you into a situation that requires mesirat nefesh (self-sacrifice), you are also given the necessary abilities to carry out this task, including the possibility of being infused with an angelic spark.

One is not to think in terms of “this one or that one can do the job.” The fact is that anything coming your way relates to, and belongs to, your mission in life. You have the abilities to deal with it, and you must do so with mesirat nefesh! And where there is a sincere will there is a way, and one will surely succeed.

We must follow the example of Pinchas. Thus we transform this world into a fitting abode and sanctuary for G‑dliness. Consequently, we shall see with our very own eyes that “Pinchas is Elijah”—i.e., the precursor of the Messianic redemption, as it is said: “I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the coming of the great and awesome day of G‑d” (Malachi 3:23), “the harbinger who will proclaim peace, the harbinger of good who will proclaim salvation, saying to Zion, ‘Your G‑d reigns!’” (Isaiah 52:7).