Pinchas' Reward: A Postscript
Curiously, the story of Pinchas takes place in Parshat Balak. Only the postscript of Pinchas' reward appears in the section that bears his name. Rabbi Moshe of Coucy explains that a thin line separates impulsive intolerance from righteous zeal. Time clarifies motivation. The pause between Pinchas' action and his repayment represent a period of observation. After evaluation proved Pinchas was mature and sincere, his behavior was rewarded.
Adolescence is a time of self discovery and a time of rebellion. Not always do convictions of youth last. Rabbi Abraham Twerski applies this to some anti-establishment rebels of the 1960s. He writes: "Twenty years later finds some of the most vehement protestors wearing business suits and conservative shoes, their hair neatly styled, and carrying briefcases as they emerge from their suburban homes, very much a part of the "establishment" which they had so violently condemned in their youth." He suggests that their actions were clearly informed by impetuousness endemic to their age.
Closer to home, there are many people who leave religion or find religion in their late teens and early twenties. Who they really are becomes clear only in time as their behavior at 21 becomes just a footnote to their lives. May we be blessed to be the best of the behavior of our youth for the rest of our lives.