By Rabbi Mordechai Levin
Published by the Omaha World Herald – March 10, 2012
We know that a straight line is the shortest way between two points. But is that always the best way? We read in the Hebrew Bible that when the Israelites left slavery in Egypt some 3,200 years ago to return to the land of Israel, “God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although it was nearer” (Exodus 13:17). Sometimes the shortest way is not necessarily the better one.
There is a centuries-old story of a man who, while on a journey, met a boy sitting at a crossroads. He asked the boy which road led to the town. The boy answered, “This one is the short but long way, and that one is the long but short road.”
Thinking it was the shorter route, the man decided to take the first road mentioned; however, as he approached the town, his access was blocked by gardens and orchards. He went back to the crossroads and asked the boy “Did you not tell me that this road is short?” Answered the boy: “Did I not tell you ‘but long’?”
Sometimes we take what seems to be a short and easy path to achieve a goal, but in the end it is actually long. To achieve something valuable requires hard work. This applies to relationships with our parents, spouse, children, or friends; it is also true with respect to our projects and to our deeds. Before hurrying to take a course of action that apparently is shorter and easier, we would be wise to consider all aspects and consequences.
At some point in our lives, an obstacle may block us from reaching a goal, forcing us to return to the starting point. However, there might be another path — one that seems lengthy, but in actuality is short. This is the unspectacular road of daily perseverance by which we achieve our goals. It may sometimes seem boring and long, but in the long run, it is really much shorter.