There’s a cute bumper sticker that says “I’m spending my kids’ inheritance.” If you were to ask whether the great Jewish scholars would approve of such an attitude, you might be surprised by the answer.

The Talmud states, “Rab said to R. Hamnuna, ‘My son, do good yourself now if you can, for there is no enjoyment in she’ol [the grave] nor will death be long in coming. And should you say: “I would leave a portion for my children” — who will tell you in the grave [if it is being used well]?” (Eiruvin 54a).

This citation is not advocating leaving one’s children penniless nor spending money on frivolous items just for the pleasure of buying and having. It is could, however, be implying that one should not deprive oneself nor should one hesitate in spending money on mitzvot (giving charity, buying a nicer lulav) because one is saving the funds to pass to one’s children.

It is interesting to note that further on in the Talmudic tractate of Eiruvin, it is asked what one who takes “possession of the property of a proselyte [should] do that he will be worthy of retaining it? Let him purchase with it a scroll of law” (64a). The presumption here is that the convert does not have any heirs.

In the secular world, wealth is almost always seen as a blessing, especially inherited wealth. The traditional Jewish attitude toward money, however, is that it is given to a person as an opportunity to do good.

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