We took our children to Old Tucson last week. It is a theme park and studio where 400 movies and TV shows have been filmed, mostly featuring the wild west of the 1800's. We wanted the children to experience the flavor of life in that period.
We rode on a wooden stagecoach wheeled by 2 horses, walked through the spooky Iron Door Mine Adventure, drove on a miniature antique car and rode on the C.P. Huntington Train viewing the Sonoran Desert.
What caught their attention and concentration most was the "Pan for Gold" experience. Goldie, Sarah and their friends rolled up their sleeves and got to work like Old West prospectors. Using rubber plates, they lifted gravel and sifted through it to keep the small golden bits as souvenirs. Though the water was cold, they took part in this activity with persistence and patience.
In Ethics of our Fathers, the first-century Jewish scholar Shimon ben Zoma opined that we should be happy with what we have. He said, "Who is the rich one? He who is happy with his lot."
But my children's search for tiny bits of precious metal brought something else to my mind - the search for spiritual riches.
The Alter Rebbe, founder of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, commented that the saying "One who is satisfied with his lot" describes a tremendous virtue in material matters, and a tremendous failing in all that pertains to one's spiritual attainments.
In spiritual matters, we should always look for "gold," asking G d to grant us precious insight, to learn more and rise higher. Because when searching for gold, you don't settle for gravel.