One of the least-changed industries in existence today is mining. While technology has certainly made it easier and safer to extract the earth's treasures, industries such as manufacturing, technology and medicine would be utterly unrecognizable to a visitor from millennia ago. When it comes to mining, from gold to chalk, a visitor from ancient Rome or Egypt would still be able to find familiar scenes of workers toiling away in deep caverns.

Mining also goes way back in Jewish tradition. Mining is even used as a metaphor for life itself.

But before we dive into a goldmine, let me share a short story:

It was around the turn of the 18th century, and a Jew by the name of Zalman was encountering business challenges. He was a wealthy and philanthropic man, and he was distraught at the prospect of not only losing his wealth, but having to cease his philanthropy.

Zalman was an earnest, serious and kind individual. When he visited his Rebbe to request a blessing for things to turn around, if only for him to be able to continue to support good causes, the Rebbe told him: 'You are speaking about what you need. But you have not given a thought to what you are needed for.'

Judaism sometimes seems to present us with mixed messages, with a kind of paradox. Sometimes the message is 'sacrifice, give to others and don't indulge yourself'. Yet sometimes the message is 'enjoy, be happy, eat drink and be merry and live life to the fullest'.

These are two, very different ways of living.

Or are they?

Judaism sees the core of the Jew as a powerful, beautiful, yet intangible space. The serenity, holiness and sweetness which defines this core is so extraordinary that simply existing in this space is the most delightful experience imaginable. This 'Jewish spark' is indestructible and completely independent from the world around it. It is thus always serene, never seeking approval or validation from others, for it has no need for it.

Yet G‑d wanted to upgrade this space, and make it even more special than it already is. So G‑d implanted it deep within us, like gold buried deep in the earth, and covered it with things like ego and jealousy. When we're able to successfully bring this core to the fore and live a Jewish life despite these distractions, the result is even greater than the core on its own.

For this spiritual, G‑dly core then goes from being a tremendous gift which G‑d gave us, to be something which we truly earned.

The greatest way to successfully 'mine' our spiritual core, and not be distracted, is through selflessness. To not only seek what we need, but to seek what we are needed for. 'Whose life can we light up?' 'What talent can I use to make the world a better place?' This does not come at the expense of enjoying life, but is actually the greatest catalyst for doing so.

In this week's Torah portion we read the story of Avraham and Sarah, the first Jews. They embodied this idea, and bequeathed to all their descendants the gift - the goldmine - of Judaism. It's up to us to start digging.

Rabbi Avrohom