This is a way to understand your nature, what's motivating you, and how to cultivate the positive expressions of some pretty negative roots.
In other words, Rav Erez's description of this system leads to greater self-awareness and shows how you can use this knowledge for self-transformation, to get from Point A to Point B.
The 4 elements are:
If you can manage the Hebrew (or if the book hopefully gets translated into the language of your choice), the discussion is found on pages 85-86 and is connected to the part of the story in which the hapless viceroy finds himself in the Palace of the "Not Good."
Each element possesses a negative root, which can then be transformed into a force for goodness and holiness.
Rav Ofer Erez also points out that each person possesses different quantities and arrangements of these 4 elements.
For example, one person may be heavy with "fire" and light with the rest. Another person may find themselves heavy with "fire" and "air," light on "water," while "earth" is nearly non-existent. Others may feel they're equally comprised of all 4 elements while another may feel that one or 2 elements stand out, but there is actually a third element setting the foundation for the others.
And so on.
So with that, here they are:
Positive expression: "Tov l'hodot l'Hashem -- It's good to thank Hashem."
- Bitachon (trust in God)
- Seeing the good in everything
- Being happy with what one has
- Investing spiritual efforts with enthusiasm
- Wisdom combined with healthy logic
- Interpreting reality correctly
Positive expression: "V'amcha kulam tzaddikim -- And Your Nation is comprised entirely of righteous people."
- Giving the benefit of the doubt
- Accepting others as they really are
- Precision (diyuk; I think this means avoiding statements of exaggeration and melodrama)
- Minimizing the amount of talking one engages in
- Holy speech for the sake of Am Yisrael
- The power of tefillah
- The power of private discussions with Hashem (hitbodedut)
- Wisdom emanating from a higher awareness that arrives on its own
Positive expression: "Lev basar -- a heart of flesh," "Lev tahor bara li Elokim -- "O Lord, create within me a pure heart."
- Giving of oneself
- Doing things for others
- Being satisfied with little
- Spiritual pleasure
- Love of learning
- The ability to delve deeply into practical knowledge
- Taking an interest in all subject matters
Positive expression: "L'hiot b'simcha tamid -- to always be in a state of joy."
- Yielding (vatranut)
- The ability to rejoice
- The ability to become healed
- The ability to recover good health
- The ability to cause others to blossom
- The ability to revitalize others
- Alacrity in both practical and spiritual matters
- Emotional intelligence
- A high level of psychological wisdom
- Awareness of others' psychological state
Another valuable insight this provides is it demonstrates how hard it is to give advice and find the right kind of adviser. A person working on her "fire" aspect can easily give the wrong advice and direction to someone who desperately needs to focus on her "water" aspect.
As another example, we see that in its highest form, the "earth" aspect is a kind of spiritual coach who facilitates healing and growth in others, while the "air" aspect is very interactive, listening and speaking constructively either with people or with Hashem.
Both the adviser and the one receiving the advice need to be aware of well-meaning yet misleading guidance.
Having said, it's certainly true that everyone needs to work on, say, the trait of humility. But a "fire" personality will face a different and thornier struggle than the "earth" personality.
Conversely, everyone needs to work on the trait of zerizut (doing good things with alacrity and not wasting time), but the zerizut-challenged "earth" personality will face a different and thornier struggle than that of the "fire" personality, who is already zariz, but simply needs to infuse the zerizut with enthusiasm and gratitude rather than self-righteousness and anger.
May we all succeed in completing our tikkun in this lifetime without trials or humiliations.
Rav Ofer Erez in English