Story Telling and Short Cuts

Passover items on blue background: Haggadah, matza, seder plate, wine goblet and flowers

Story Telling and Short Cuts

Two of my very favorite things in life are hearing a good story and finding a good shortcut. As we approach the Passover holiday, where the “Haggadah” is central to the holiday, I will weave these two loves together.

I grew up under the influence of two great storytellers: my late father and maternal grandfather. They had very different styles, both ones that I came to appreciate. My father’s stories always started in the first person, immediately grabbing my attention. As the story evolved, I was drawn into my father’s experiences. He always ended with a humorous punchline, which revealed that the story had nothing to do with him. The stories were always entertaining, funny, and memorable.

On the other hand, my grandfather told stories that always had a Jewish theme with an important lesson. I joined a daily Talmud class (Daf Yomi) five years after he died. To my surprise, I discovered that many of the stories that appeared in the text were all stories I had heard before. My grandfather had, in fact, been sharing Talmudic tales but never attributed them to the source they came from.

One of those stories I never forgot was the following from Tractate of Eruvin 53b.

“Which is the road leading to the city?” asked Rabbi Yehoshua ben Chananya of a youngster sitting at a crossroads.

“This is the shorter one,” replied the lad, pointing to one road, “but it is longer. The other road is longer but shorter.”

Rabbi Yehoshua decided to take the first road, described as the shorter one, but when he approached the city, he found access to it blocked by gardens and orchards. He returned to the crossroads and challenged his young guide for suggesting the shorter road that had turned out to be the wrong one.

“But I told you, replied the boy, although it is shorter in distance, it is longer in reaching your goal.”

The Sage was so impressed by the boy’s wisdom that he kissed him on the head and exclaimed, “How fortunate are you, O Israel, that all of your people, from old to young, are so wise!”

I thought about this story as I have reached a significant milestone in my life as Philip Stein & Associates (PSA) enters its 44th tax season. Although 44 years is quite a length of time, as in the Talmud, it has been a long way that has truthfully felt so short. During those 44 years of building and managing PSA, I have been blessed to service wonderful clients, work with talented and loyal staff, and come to know colleagues who have become lifelong friends. I have learned so much along the way that I did not notice that so much time has passed.

In short, my long but short journey as the CEO of PSA has reached its end. Fortunately, PSA’s management has been transferred to my long-time partner Fred Kahn effective immediately. I will still be around to advise you and write my blogs, do my podcasts, and promote charitable endeavors, which will mean you will still know what I am up to. It has been a great ride and privilege to manage PSA, and I look forward to the next chapter in my life, which I am sure will lend itself to some great stories and memorable journeys.

Wishing you all Chag Kasher v’ Sameach,


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