“At some point in life, people start to think about the things they really own, what is significant and meaningful in their lives.
However, what was given to others is still somehow credited to us.
Immortality is a common human aspiration, and a common motivation for philanthropy, even though there is no real way of knowing whether the outcomes of our actions will in fact remain after we are gone.
One can establish a phenomenal building, but as times goes by the name engraved outside will be forgotten or ignored.
But if a person took an action that made a difference – his deed will remain alive, even when his personal aspirations are gone.
And such an ownership right is much more sustainable than any other kind.
A person can lose his political influence, lose his money — but no one can take his actions and deeds away.
These deeds truly belong to him.”
From an essay, “Shrouds have no pockets,” by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz