Elul Thoughts: Elul 4

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This story apparently comes from Steven Covey in First Things First. While not an Elul story in itself, it is a good reminder that one of our main tasks in preparing for the Holy Days is to take the time to determine if our personal and communal priorities are in order:

There was an expert on time management who was speaking to a group of busy executives at a seminar.  To make his point, he used an illustration.  He took out a one gallon, wide-mouthed jar and put it on the table in front of him.  Then he produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and placed them carefully, one at a time, in the jar.  When the jar was full to the top and no more rocks could fit inside, he asked, “Is this jar full?”  Everyone in the class said,”Yes.”  He said, “Really?”  Then he reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel.  He dumped some gravel in and shook the jar, so that the pieces of gravel worked themselves down into the crevices between the rocks.  Then he asked the group once again, “Is the jar full?”   By this time, the class was on to him, so they said, “probably not.”  “Good!” he replied.  And then he reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand.  He started putting the sand in and it quickly went into all the spaces that were left between the rocks.  Then once more, he asked the question, “Is the jar full?”  “No!” the students said.  Again he said, “Good.”  This time, he took a pitcher of water and began to pour it into the jar until the jar was full to the brim.  Then he looked at the class and asked, “What do you think is the point of all this?”  One eager beaver raised his hand and said, “The point is to teach us that no matter how full your schedule is, you can always fit something into it if you want to.”  The speaker said, “No that’s not the point at all.  The truth that this illustration is meant to teach us is that if you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all.” 

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