At the center of the portion Pinchas is the soul named Pinchas; who, as the kabbalists tell us, became Elijah the Prophet, one of the few people whose body and soul remained completely intact. Death did not touch Elijah the Prophet. So, I’d like to delve into understanding what Elijah the Prophet did that made it possible for him to achieve that level of Immortality, and in so doing, hopefully gain more understanding of what we can start doing to lead ourselves, and through that, the world, towards that same reality.
Pinchas, as we know, does an action in which he gives up of himself completely. And it says in the Talmud that in that moment, the Creator gave Pinchas the gift, or the job, of being the heralder, the one who will announce and help bring about the Final Redemption. Why did the Creator give him that gift right then?
We've spoken about the concept that a person is in this world to work, to do his or her spiritual job. At this moment in the life of Pinchas, he had completed his job by completely giving up his desire to receive for the self alone. As such, since there's no point for a person who has finished his job to be in this world, the Creator said there were two things that could then happen: Pinchas could either leave this world, or be given a task so that he can live forever.
Five times when the name Eliyahu, Elijah the Prophet, who Pinchas became, is mentioned, it's missing the letter vav. The Maharal, the great kabbalist, says the meaning of the Midrash when it says that the name Eliyahu was written without the vav, while it seems to indicate something lacking within Elijah, is that the Creator in the portion Pinchas gives him a new job: to bring the Final Redemption. And until the Final Redemption, Elijah has not done his task.
The Creator thinks about what task He can give Pinchas, give Elijah, in which he'll never be able to die, and knows that if he takes upon himself the task of bringing the Final Redemption, then he has to live forever. So, the Creator tells Pinchas he has two choices: “You’ve done everything your soul came into this world to do, so you can leave, or I can give you the task of bringing the Final Redemption. If you accept that task and focus your entire life on bringing the Final Redemption, then you can never die.”
We learn from this that in order for us to be moving ourselves towards Immortality, it is dependent on how much we take the task of bringing the Final Redemption upon ourselves. It's not that the Creator said to Pinchas, who became Elijah, “Spend some of your time on this and you'll live forever.” No; the reason Elijah lives forever is because from morning to night there's nothing else that he is focused on except what he can do to bring the Final Redemption. He is not focused on doing important spiritual work, such as spending most of his day helping people and doing actions of sharing, and the rest of his day on finding ways to bring the Final Redemption. He wouldn't have lived forever if he had done that; it's because he took upon himself to focus his entire being on bringing the Final Redemption. That's why he lives forever.
Therefore, we learn from this that we have to be careful, because even the spiritual work that we do isn't always necessarily focused on bringing the Final Redemption. A person can even open up, and connect to, the Zohar because he or she needs a blessing or assistance. And I'm not saying that's not positive; it's all positive. It all reveals Light. But those aren't the actions that allow a person to step closer towards Immortality.
However, when a person opens up the Zohar and says, “Yes, I need this assistance or that assistance right now, but the real reason I'm connecting to the Zohar is because I want to bring the Light of Immortality to the world. I want to bring the End of the Correction,” then, we’ve taken ourselves a step closer towards the gift of Elijah the Prophet, the gift of Immortality. The Creator came to Pinchas, and he comes to us on this Shabbat, and says there is this possibility for Immortality, but we know that Immortality for everybody will only occur when there's a critical mass of people doing this work. Each one of us individually is responsible for bringing ourselves, and the world, closer.
We're not meant to be completely righteous, like Elijah the Prophet, who spends 100 percent of his energy, time, effort, and focus only on bringing the Final Redemption. But from wherever we are, we need to grow. We need to grow that focus, because that percentage of focus is the percentage of life that we have. Everything that we have in life, to the degree that it is connected to the Final Redemption, is to that degree that it has the Light of the Final Redemption in it. And even if we don't bring the totality of that Light, it at least connects it more.
For example, if a person has a gift - whether it's money, children, or wisdom, etc. - to the degree the individual truly desires to attach that gift to the goal of bringing the Final Redemption, is to the degree that he injects within that gift a little bit more Light that doesn't end. Eventually, yes, the gift will end, but now at least it has more of the Light of Immortality. It has more of the Light of the Final Redemption.
The Creator comes to Pinchas and asks him if he wants to live forever. When Pinchas says yes, the Creator tells him to dedicate his entire life and being, forever, to spending 100 percent of his time and effort focused only on bringing the Final Redemption. And to the degree a person is focused on bringing the Final Redemption is to the degree, the Creator says, that person will never die.
We're not meant to be Elijah the Prophet yet. But wherever we are, on Shabbat Pinchas, if we want to be able to draw more Light of Immortality into everything in our life, we need to push the focus on bringing the Final Redemption into everything that we do. We want to inject every gift we have with it. And that's what we can do on this Shabbat; we can begin drawing down the Light of Immortality into everything that exists.