I happen to like things that allow limited space for a given message, like t-shirts and bumperstickers.
On Wednesday I saw a brilliant T-shirt. It captured an import foundation in personal growth. Rav Yerucham Levovitz zt”l, the Mashgiach from the Mir (and a talmud of the Alter of Kelm, the Alter of Slobodka, and the Chofetz Chaim) said, “Woe to a person who is not aware of his faults, for he does not know what he has to correct. But double woe to a person who is not aware of his virtues, for he is lacking the tools for correcting himself“.
What the Mashigach is saying is that if you don’t know exactly what your good points are, then you are lost. Without knowing exactly what those good points are, the things you excell at and make you who you are, then you can’t get anywhere.
When one reaches Elul, ok when I reach Elul, I usually attempt to figure out what I didn’t work on so much during the year. I look at my Cheshbon HaNefesh (I actually keep one online at http://www.joesgoals.com) and see what my “issues” and things I was struggling with were during the year and where I fell short. R Yerucham’s approach seems different. By focusing on our virtues we not only build up our confidence, but also become more aware of exactly what gifts Hashem decided to specifically give us. This idea is very in tune with the whole “Galus HaAdom” approach of Slobodka, finding the greatness within.
I think that using Elul as a time to bring out my strengths can only help me. Usually my Elul is sort of a cannonball into a pool of introspection followed by endless laps by way of the Tikun HaMiddos stroke. Using what virtues I might have to augment those things that I’m weak in brings me to the T-shirt. Each of us has a “virture” or something that we are fairly good at. If you don’t want to feel like a baal guyvah, then just accept that someone close to you feels that you are probably good at something. Our goal is of figure it out and use that as a springboard in other areas. Look at the T-Shirt below and think about how you would fill in the blank.