Rabbi Yehoshua once asked directions from a young child while traveling to a city. The child replied, “This path is short and long, and the other is long and short.”
Rabbi Yehoshua, dumbfounded by the child’s cryptic answer took the short way. Although he soon found himself in the city’s outskirts, fenced in orchards blocked the entrance and he had to retrace his steps and take the longer route, which eventually brought him to his destination.
It’s a natural human trait to look for shortcuts. Who hasn’t driven to an unfamiliar area, found what looks like a shortcut on a map (before the days of Waze) and taking it, only to discover that it really was a very slow route, and that taking the highway might have indeed been a few miles longer, but it would have brought them to their destination much sooner? As the saying goes, “A short cut is often the fastest way to get to somewhere you don’t want to be!”
Rabbi Yehoshua’s story is a parable about life, where the apparent easier way is so often misleading. Some paths in life lead nowhere. We can either discover them ourselves, or we can ask those with life experiences, and benefit from their knowledge.