Our Sages identify Pinchas with Eliyahu, the prophet charged with heralding the redemption.
Moreover, as emphasized in the essay which follows, Pinchas is identified with a unique fusion of potentials, zealousness tempered with peace, which is fundamental to making that redemption a reality.
As the Rebbe often mentioned, the most effective catalyst in bringing the Redemption is experiencing a foretaste of it in our lives at present.
By integrating these two thrusts - the powerful inner commitment implied by zealousness, and the warmth and care implied by peace - we can add richness and depth to our lives in the present and plot out a path leading us to the future.
17 Tammuz, 5754
Likkutei Sichos, Vol. II, p. 344ff, 609ff;
Vol. IV, p. 1070ff; Vol. XVIII, p. 318ff
This week's Torah reading begins: 
"Pinchas, the son of Elazar... turned My wrath away from the children of Israel by zealously taking up My cause among them.... Therefore,... I have granted him a covenant of peace. He and his descendants will possess an eternal covenant of priesthood, because he zealously acted on behalf of his G-d."
The question arises: Pinchas' deed, the execution of Zimri as described in the conclusion of last week's Torah reading,  involved self-sacrifice and courage.
Certainly, it is worthy of praise and reward. Nevertheless, it is problematic that Pinchas was granted "a covenant of eternal priesthood," as a reward.
For priesthood cannot be attained through man's endeavors; it is not at all dependent on our spiritual accomplishments.
As Rashi comments,  just as one cannot change morning into evening, one cannot alter the definition of priesthood.
Since Pinchas was not a priest beforehand, how could his conduct, however virtuous, earn him that distinction?
The resolution of this question revolves on the understanding of the trait for which the Torah praises Pinchas: zealousness.
Why does the Torah describe Pinchas with this term?
Firstly, Pinchas risked his life.
Although Zimri was supported by his entire tribe, and they could have easily killed Pinchas,  Pinchas did not consider the danger he faced at all.
What concerned him was the spiritual danger facing the Jewish people and he was willing to sacrifice his life to eliminate the hazard confronting them.
There was, moreover, a deeper dimension to Pinchas' commitment.
Our Sages relate  that when a Jewish man is cohabitating with a non-Jewish woman, "the zealous have [the right  to] strike him." Nevertheless, "although this is the law, a ruling is not delivered."
If a person were to ask a Jewish court if he should kill a person who commits such an act, the court should not instruct him to do so.
Thus not only did Pinchas risk his life, he did so even when there was no obligation.
If he had let the situation pass, nobody would have criticized him. On the contrary, he had to take the initiative himself, and he aroused criticism by taking the step he did.
Our Sages state  that he acted against the sages' desires, and that had not G-d praised him as quoted above, they would have placed him under a ban of ostracism. 
What motivated Pinchas?
He wanted to "turn [G-d's] wrath away from the children of Israel."
He understood what had to be done to accomplish this goal, and was willing to undertake any risks involved.
This is zealousness: putting one's own welfare - both spiritual  and material - on the side, and making an unbounded commitment to carry out G-d's will.
And when a person makes a genuine commitment of this nature, the inner G-dly spark which every on e of us possesses is given expression.
Similarly, such an approach evokes an unbounded response from G-d.
For when man goes beyond his natural limits in his Divine service, G-d grants him rewards that are not confined within the limits of nature. For this reason, Pinchas could be granted the status of a priest.
Our Sages identified Pinchas with Eliyahu. 
Eliyahu's Divine service was also characterized by zealousness, as it is written:  "I have been very zealous for the sake of G-d, the L-rd of Hosts."
When making this statement, however, Eliyahu contrasted his own conduct with that of the Jewish people at large whom he criticized for "forsaking [G-d's] covenant."
G-d refused to accept these words of criticism.
He appointed Eliyahu as "the angel of the covenant"  and charged him with attending the circumcisions of the Jewish people for all time to come, so that he would attest to their faithful adherence to G-d's covenant. 
G-d taught Eliyahu that his zealousness must be tempered with ahavas Yisrael, love for every member of our people, and that he must endeavor to seek out our people's virtues.
These traits became such an integral part of Eliyahu's personal mission that when the prophet Malachi describes Eliyahu's return to announce the coming of the Redemption, he states  that Eliyahu will "turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to the fathers."
And when the Rambam describes  Eliyahu's mission, he states that "he will come solely to establish peace."
To emphasize this direction from the outset, G-d tells Pinchas that in reward for his zealousness, he is being given "a covenant of peace."
These two thrusts - zealousness and peace - are of fundamental relevance at present.
Many of our people live estranged from their Jewish roots, and our national future depends on zealous commitment to maintaining our heritage.
For it is the inner conviction that stems from the spark of G-dliness we all possess which will make an impression on others.
Intellectual arguments cannot penetrate to the core of another person's heart.
The heart opens to the heart, and it is zealous commitment, as tempered by warmth and loving outreach, which will spur others to discover the Jewish spark within their own being. 
There is a further dimension to Pinchas' zealousness.
Pinchas was not the leader of the Jewish people.
Moshe, Elazar, and the elders occupied higher positions of authority.
When, however, the need arouse, Pinchas did not wait for the leaders' guidance, he took the initiative himself.
The same applies with regard to every individual today, for every one of us has a unique contribution which he himself can make.
With the confidence that comes from the truth of one's inner conviction, we must all take the initiative and spread good and peace.
These efforts will hasten the coming of the time when Eliyahu - identified with Pinchas - will come. And then, "the voice of the herald will announce good tidings,"  the coming of Mashiach, and the redemption of our people and all mankind.
- (Back to text) Numbers 25:11-13.
- (Back to text) Numbers 25:1-9.
- (Back to text) In his commentary to Numbers 16:5.
- (Back to text) Indeed, our Sages (Sanhedrin 82b) relate that it was only because six miracles occurred that they did not kill him.
- (Back to text) Sanhedrin 82a.
- (Back to text) I.e., he is not obligated to do so, he is merely given license to do so. Therefore, the Shulchan Aruch does not mention an obligation for a zealous person to strike a man who engages in intimate relations with a gentile woman, it merely mentions (Even HaEzer 16:2) that one has such a right.
- (Back to text) Jerusalem Talmud, Sanhedrin 9:7.
- (Back to text) Sanhedrin 82a.
- (Back to text) In this light, we find numerous stories of tzaddikim who were willing to sacrifice their portion in the World to Come for the benefit of another Jew.
- (Back to text) Targum Yonason, Exodus 6:18; Yalkut Shimoni, vol. I, sec. 671; Zohar II, 190b.
- (Back to text) I Kings 19:10.
- (Back to text) Malachi 3:1; Pirkei d'R. Eliezer end of ch. 29.
- (Back to text) Yalkut Shimoni, vol. I, sec. 71.
- (Back to text) Malachi 3:24.
- (Back to text) Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Melachim 12:2.
- (Back to text) Figuratively speaking, a parallel can be drawn to the story of Pinchas. The widespread assimilation of the present age can be compared to the plague which killed thousands of the Jewish people. Pinchas' zealousness which stopped the plague can, as above, be considered an analogy to the heartfelt dedication to our Jewish heritage which will turn this tide.
- (Back to text) Cf. Siddur Tehillat HaShem, p. 334.