As Elul enters, we begin a more reflective time in the Jewish calendar. Many people begin a cheshbon hanefesh, an “accounting of the soul.” This reflection enables us to consider how we did in the last year, where we were lacking, and what we’d like to do better in the coming year.
As I look at my successes and failures from the past year, I also like to create a vision board for the coming year. I comb through my mother’s old Oprah magazines, calendars, Jewish magazines, and charity reports from the field, looking for messages that resonate with my dreams for the coming year. Then, as the year comes to a close, part of my accounting also becomes how well I fulfilled the things on my vision board.
As we reflect on what we haven’t achieved yet in this process, sometimes the source of our errors might be in our view of ourselves. Like King Saul, who was rebuked by Samuel “You may look small to yourself, but you are the head of the tribes of Israel” (I Samuel 15:17), we didn’t believe ourselves to be big enough to meet the moment. So another aspect of cheshbon hanefesh might be focusing on who we truly are, what gifts make us special, and how we can use our strengths to express our purpose more fully to life: an accounting of our gifts.
Though we already know some things about who we are, some of our gifts are not yet known to us. Jewish mysticism teaches that every individual comes into the world with only part of our soul fully within our body. Other parts of our soul are not yet integrated into our whole self, but scattered across the universe. Our life’s mission is to collect these fallen sparks, which are really insights or life lessons we need to be whole. When we act in a way that accomplishes the purpose of that moment, we raise a spark and absorb its light back into our souls. Moment by moment, we collect fragments of ourselves by learning lessons and expanding our consciousness. From this perspective, our grandest life work is the reconstruction of ourselves.
To help women strengthen their understanding of their own gifts and purpose this Elul, I’ve created a new Heroine’s Journal: A Mystical Jewish Journey for Growing into Your Gifts. The printable booklet offers twelve short lessons as an exploration, to accelerate your own journey of growing into your gifts.
In my novel The Prophetess, 17-year old Rachel is called to become the fullest version of herself. At first, her calling is bigger than she can imagine. One of Rachel’s teachers tells her, “When they say you are great, believe them.”
For some of us, believing others when they try to reveal our own greatness can be one of our biggest life challenges. For others, focusing on our gifts seems like a privilege we lack sufficient time or energy to try. Some women just don’t know where to begin. Wherever you are, this journal is designed as a starting point for your own exploration.
The process begins with looking at what we already know about our gifts. We look at gifts displayed by Jewish women in Tanakh, explore the levels of our own soul, meditate on our own deepest desires, and recognize the expansion that might be necessary to overcome barriers. At the end, you will write a prayer or intention, something that can bring you powerfully into a new beginning – perfect for the new Jewish year.
So what are your gifts, and how can you use them best? Can you apply them in discovering and living your life’s purpose? Can you use them to fulfill your greatest dreams? If this journey would empower you right now, please come download and print the Heroine’s Journal. It’s available now as a free digital download on my website at www.GrowIntoYourGifts.com/heroines-journal.
Evonne Marzouk strives to bring the light of Jewish wisdom into the world. She was the founder and director of Canfei Nesharim (now merged with GrowTorah), and co-edited Uplifting People and Planet: Eighteen Essential Jewish Lessons on the Environment. Her first Jewish novel, The
Prophetess, was published by Bancroft Press in 2019.