We the Jewish people want peace; we believe that peace is one of the greatest goals in life. The Sages tell us that the Torah was given in order to bring peace into the world.1 The concept peace means, of course, a pleasant and positive atmosphere, where there is nothing harsh. And yet the concept of the "covenant of peace," which we find in this week's Torah reading,2 was a reward for Pinchas, the grandson of Aaron, following his forceful action at the end of the previous week's reading.

There we read that a Shimonite prince was publicly cohabiting with a gentile woman. Moses and Aaron were weeping, they felt powerless, but Pinchas took action. He was a strong man, a zealot. But does that action express the virtue of peace? Yet G‑d says that in reward for his action "I give him My covenant of Peace."3

On the one hand, Pinchas was a critic, on the other, G‑d gives him the "Covenant of Peace"The Sages tell us that Pinchas lived very long and was the same person whom we meet in the Book of Kings, named Elijah,4 who is the subject of this week's haftorah.5 In the haftorah, he is also seen as a zealot. He sees the moral and spiritual weakness of the Jewish people of his time and is deeply upset about it. He travels through the desert back to Mount Sinai where the Torah was given, as if to meet more directly with the Divine, and he declares that the Jewish people are not keeping their Covenant with G‑d.6

On the one hand, Pinchas or Elijah was a critic, who could see the negative aspects of people's behavior and tried to take action against them, as in the case of Pinchas or as in Elijah's contest with the Priests of Baal on Mount Carmel.7

On the other hand, G‑d gives him the Covenant of Peace, which implies seeing people in a positive way. The Torah also says that Pinchas is given the role of being a kohen (priest). The kohen is described as a man of kindness, like Aaron, the first kohen, who saw the good in everyone.

Similarly in the case of Elijah. The Sages tell us that because Elijah complained that the Jewish people are not keeping their Covenant, for all time he is present at every Brit Milah, when a Jewish boy enters the Covenant of Circumcision. He is able to see that indeed the Jewish people are keeping the Covenant.8 Hence at a Brit Milah a chair is set for Elijah the Prophet.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe comments that, like Pinchas and Elijah, we have to be able to combine two contrary aspects. On the one hand, to be able to act firmly when necessary, to put right that which is wrong, or to protect from danger. On the other, to be able to see the goodness in a person, his or her potential, their positive achievements. A further step is when these two approaches are combined: by seeing the goodness in a person, one helps them to put right that which needs correction. The two features of Pinchas and Elijah respectively, become one.9

This is the road to genuine peace. Hence the Sages tell us that Elijah will usher in the Redemption, the time of ultimate peace, in which everything negative will be transformed to good. Then the enemy of every kind – in Hebrew, oyev – will be transformed to ohev, friend. Then indeed there will be peace…