The Torah portion of Pinchas begins, "Pinchas ... diverted My anger from upon the Children of Israel by zealously avenging Me among them..." Therefore, "I hereby bestow My covenant of peace upon him." G‑d gave him "eternal priesthood," meaning that "he and all of his descendants after him" would be Kohanim.1

The reward for his actions was that he became a Kohen. A person can't earn this status, neither can he be rewarded with it (under normal circumstances). G‑d made Aaron and his children who were anointed with him as Kohanim, as well as all the children who would be born from them, from that point on, would be naturally holy.2 G‑d put it into nature, that their descendants, and only their descendants, would be Kohanim.

Rashi tells us about being a Kohen, that just as G‑d separated between night and day, and no matter what, nothing can change that, so too, he separated Aaron and his sons to be holy, and nothing can change that.3

Pinchas was born before the priests were anointed and he wasn't anointed at the time. So how could he be awarded for his actions and efforts to "zealously avenge Me among them," to be a Kohen?

The portion Pinchas continues with the fallout of the Midian episode and Pinchas' act of zealotry (the command to go to war with Midian, and the counting of the Jewish people to see how many were left after the plague that Pinchas had ended with his act of zealotry). The parshah continues with things that pertain to the land of Israel, the way they would divide the land and the appointment of Joshua (who would lead the Jewish people into the land). It ends with a description of the many sacrifices, of which some would only be brought when they enter the land.

Since the name of the parshah is Pinchas, and the name of a parshah encompasses the theme of the entire parshah, the entry into the land of Israel must have a direct connection to Pinchas. What is the connection between Pinchas and entry into Israel?

Through his actions, Pinchas showed his zealotry for G‑d. How does Pinchas' way of serving G‑d connect to the entry into Israel?

Our sages say if not for the people’s sin, their entry into the land would have been the final Redemption.4 Even though a first entrance into the land was not the final Redemption; nonetheless, the first entry has parallels to the final Redemption. We can therefore take a lesson from the details of the first entry into Israel and apply it to the future Redemption.

Pinchas is linked with the final Redemption, as our sages say, "Pinchas is Eliyahu"5; Eliyahu is the one who will herald the final Redemption with the coming of Moshiach.

In the time of Moshiach, "no longer will your Master be covered."6 The essence of G‑d, from beyond existence, will shine openly in the physical world.7

How does this happen?

We are created in the image of G‑d, meaning that our spiritual makeup is in the Divine image. Just as G‑d is in existence and beyond existence, so are our souls in existence and beyond existence. The soul has five parts: nefesh, ruach, neshamah and chayah, each of work within existence, and yechidah (the fifth part) is one with G‑d's essence beyond existence.

In order to bring Moshiach we have to tap into our yechidah to draw G‑d's essence that is beyond existence into the world.8

This is the meaning of what our sages say, "If Israel [the Jewish people] will do teshuvah [repentance], they will be redeemed, and if they don't do teshuvah, they won't be redeemed."9

In this context, the word teshuvah doesn't simply mean rectifying one’s own wrongdoings. For what if somebody is purely righteous and doesn't have to do that form of teshuvah? Yet, we just read that every one of us has to do teshuvah in order to bring the final Redemption. We must conclude that teshuvah here is something much greater, something that even the greatest tzaddik (truly righteous person) needs to do.

There is a deeper level of teshuvah, to return to one’s essence, the yechidah, the part of a person that is one with G‑d’s essence, beyond existence. And by tapping into the yechidah, all the blemishes that were caused by sins automatically fall away, because it's impossible for one’s essence to have flaws.10 So by tapping into your yechidah, all sins automatically fall away and you draw the essence of G‑d into the world.

How does one tap into the yechidah?

It is through serving Hashem with true self-sacrifice, and that is what Pinchas did. He acted for G‑d, even though his zealotry put him in harm's way. He wasn't thinking of being a hero or what he's going to get out of it; he wanted to do what G‑d wants and to put an end to the plague that killed 24,000 Jews.

There are different types of self-sacrifice. When faced with a situation that might require self-sacrifice, a person turns to the Code of Jewish Law or to a rabbi to know whether sacrificing one’s life is warranted. This is calculated self-sacrifice.

Then there is the self-sacrifice of Pinchas. Where everything G‑d wants is done with self-sacrifice, without any calculations. This is pure self-sacrifice.

If Pinchas would have asked, he would have been told, “No,”11 even though the law was on his side. This is one of the cases in Torah where the zealots could take matters into their own hands,12 but as a matter of policy, people are not directed to act in this manner. As a matter of fact, if they ask, we tell them not to do so.

Now, in the time right before Moshiach, in order to draw G‑d’s essence that is beyond existence into the world, we have to tap into our yechidah. And in order to do that, we have to do everything G‑d wants with self-sacrifice. Every mitzvah, learning Torah and even the most mundane daily activities, should be done for G‑d with true self-sacrifice.

Even though our service to G‑d is finite, because we are finite, it draws His infinite essence. And that is what is going to happen when Moshiach comes. The reward for our efforts will be the revelation of the essence of G‑d that is drawn by our finite service, and He will bestow upon us His infinite essence beyond existence. There will be a fusion of the two.

That is also what happened to Pinchas. One can't earn or be rewarded with being a Kohen. As Aaron's grandson, Pinchas was able to be a Kohen all along, but we must conclude that it wasn't until his act of true self-sacrifice that Hashem bestowed upon him "eternal priesthood," to be a Kohen, binding the infinite within the finite. This is hinted to in the verse, "I hereby bestow My covenant of peace upon him." To make peace is to bring opposing sides together, the fusion of opposites.

And this is perhaps the reason that more times than not, we read the portion of Pinchas during the Three Weeks, when our Temples were destroyed and we were driven into exile.13 Pinchas is the remedy and the key to bringing Moshiach. May he come soon.14