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Today's theme: A Mother's Influence
    And the Last Word goes to Paula Poundstone?

  THE ULTIMATE TEST OF BEHAVIOR     (Reprinted with permission from The Beacon)

           Choice—free will—doing good versus evil—all of these key words add up to the
    dilemma and challenge of being human.  How often do we say to ourselves: “What’s the
    best way to go?  Which choice should I make?”
           Many people simply get stuck and refuse to take responsibility for their actions.  
    They delay and even deliberately forget to make their choice and thus it is made for
    them.  Not sending back a response to an invitation, for example, because it is misplaced
    or whatever is really saying: “I can’t decide whether or not to go!”
           But when it comes to major moral and ethical decisions such as whether or not to
    cheat or lie or steal—sometimes we forget they are part of the Ten Commandments.  
    We actually need a louder voice than the sounds from Mount Sinai.
           And so I offer to you a formula to remember when a major or even minor decision is
    to be made: “I am about to do such and such.  Would my mother be ashamed of me if she
    knew I did this?”
           Yes, good ole Mom (dead or alive) can serve us well as our ultimate source of choice
    behavior.  I know when I visit my Mom’s grave I speak to her and hope and pray that she
    is proud of me.  God forbid, she should be ashamed of my actions.  Thus I constantly ask
    myself: “Is this what Mom would want me to do?”
Photo by Stephen Bowman
Beseech God your
Creator, cherish him,
love him: if you do so,
he will be a keeper, a
leader, a companion,
and a fatherland for
you, the way, the truth,
and the life, granting
you generous prosperity
in the world, and he will
turn your enemies to
--Dhuoda,  (died circa 843) to her son
Read below about this remarkable woman.

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Photo:Stephen Bowman
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On June 24, 824 AD, a Frankish noblewoman named Dhuoda married Bernard, Duke of Septimania.
Possessed of a sharp mind, she wrote Latin fluently at a time when few did, especially women. She gave birth
to her first son, William, in 826 and to a second son, Bernard, in 841. In 843, she must have sensed that her
future was tenuous, for she wrote a 73-chapter life manual for 16-year-old William, entitled "Liber Manualis."
Her fearful intuitions were correct, for shortly after she finished it, her husband had her imprisoned in a castle
and gave William to Charles the Bald as a hostage. He also took Bernard away from her before the infant's
baptism, so that she didn't even know what his name would be.

It is thought Dhuoda died not long after she finished her loving tome for William, for she refers to being near
death and expresses sorrow that she will not know him in manhood. But she left behind an extraordinary
example of a mother reaching out to her child with lively images and earnest guidance in spiritual, moral and
political matters. Dying early probably was kinder to her than living to know the fate of her family.

In 844, the Duke of Septimania was accused of plotting to kill King Charles of France and was executed.
Dhuoda's cherished William was killed trying to avenge his father. The youngest son, Bernard, lived long
enough to have two children. He died around 887. Perhaps he was able to pass along his mother's loving
wisdom to his offspring.

In the Middle Ages, when most women suffered total anonymity, Dhuoda steps forward from history with
impressive strength. Her love for her son shines still today.

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Photo by Chuck Bowman
Why do the Ten Commandments, which include moral laws, begin with "I
am your G-d?" Because without the acceptance that morality is derived from
G-d, morality --- and therefore, education --- is guided by nothing more
than human whim and conscience. History has shown us that a society can
be extremely well educated and yet, if not guided by G-d's precepts, it may
be steeped in malevolence.

--from 'Toward a Meaningful Life: The Wisdom of Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson' by Simon Jacobson
William Morrow, 2002
Rich and poor have a common bond: the Lord is the maker of them all.

The reward of humility and fear of the Lord is riches, honor and life.

Thorns and snares are on the path of the crooked; he who would safeguard his life will shun them.

Train a boy in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not swerve from it.

--Proverbs 22: 2, 4-6
New American Bible

    The Prayer Circle:

    You are invited to share your
    prayers. Let us pray for each other.
    Just click on these links:

    And now, the Last  Word:

Adults are always asking little kids what they want to be
when they grow up because they're looking for ideas.

--American comedian Paula Poundstone (born 1959)
But there may be one of these days, so keep
checking back...I have an idea.
Rabbi Lawrence Goldmark is the spiritual leader of Temple Beth Ohr in La
Mirada. He is the Executive Vice President of the Pacific Association of
Reform Rabbis. Among many other posts, he was also President of the
Board of Rabbis of Southern California from 1997-1999.