The Mesilas Yesharim (Chapter 1) explains that our purpose in this world is to gain entry into the World to Come. The medium for that is Torah and mitzvos, for which one can only achieve reward in this world.
Question: When a stranger approaches a congregant in shul asking for tzedakah, should the congregant verify that the person’s need is genuine? Furthermore, what constitutes tzedakah? Is a donation to a synagogue, yeshiva, or hospital considered tzedakah?
When a person who has given in to his or her animal instincts wishes to bring a sacrifice to atone for such conduct, the sacrifice should be as basic and unadorned as the instincts to which he or she gave in.