Interestingly, in the previous parsha, when the Torah narrates the actual episode and Zimri’s flagrant act of licentiousness, it does not mention the identity of the perpetrators. Only now — after Pinchas acted and Zimri has been executed — is the identity of Zimri publicized. Why is this? Why is it that after Zimri has been slain, and Pinchas has received his reward, the Torah reveals who Pinchas killed? Rashi seems to address this question by saying that when the Torah records the name of the tzaddik, Pinchas, for praise, it also mentions the name of the evil perpetrator — for shame. This still demands explanation. What relationship is there between the humiliation of the sinner and the glorification of the saint?
The Ohr Hachaim Hakadosh addresses this question, and responds that the Torah conveys to us the dictum, “A Jew, even if he has sinned, is still a Jew.” The name Yisrael, the appellation that denotes membership in the Chosen People, does not dissipate as a result of sin. This concept is indicated by the words, “the name of the slain Yisrael” – emphasizing his nationhood. Every Jew has a spark of kedushah, holiness, emanating from Above, the Source of all kedushah. Although one sins, the spark of kedushah is never severed from its source. It has to be cleansed; the taint must be expunged. The kedushah, however, remains intact. By slaying Zimri, Pinchas eradicated the taint on Zimri’s soul, allowing for his death to serve as his penance. He was now once again an “ish Yisrael.” This applied only after he received his punishment. His name is mentioned in Parashas Pinchas, the parsha that follows the sin – and its consequences.