March 22, 2014

MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: Invocation to the ABA House of Delegates: February 10, 2014, by Maury B. Poscover

On February 10, 2014, the ABA House of Delegates, the 565-member, principal policy-making body of the ABA, played host to a naturalization ceremony during the association’s Midyear Meeting in Chicago. This was the first-ever-in-House naturalization ceremony, and was presided over by the Honorable Marvin Aspen (United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois). At its conclusion, the entire membership of the House joined Judge Aspen, ABA President Jim Silkenat, and ABA Chair of the House Bob Carlson in welcoming the 24 new U.S. citizens, and joined together in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. 

Immediately following that ceremony, the invocation to open the House of Delegates session was delivered by Maury B. Poscover, Past Chair of the Business Law Section and one of the Section Delegates to the House. Mr. Poscover has also served on the ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary, the ABA Board of Governors, the ABA Nominating Committee, and as Chair of the ABA Standing Committee on Membership and Marketing. He is former Editor-in-Chief of the Business Lawyer and Business Law Today, and is a former Chair of the Business Law Section’s Commercial Financial Services Committee. 

The text of his invocation is chronicled below. 

* * * 

Having been a member of this august body for many years and an interested observer of its actions for even longer, it is an honor and a privilege to be in front of you not to advocate for a position, but to offer the invocation at this meeting. 

We just attended the moving naturalization ceremony. My grandparents on my father’s side in 1906 emigrated from Ukraine, and in 1921 my mother, at age 12, emigrated from Poland. 

In my faith tradition, Judaism, we study the Torah. Then we study it some more. We interpret it and reinterpret it. We study the interpretations of Torah in the Talmud and the entire body of Jewish law and tradition comprising the laws of the Bible, the oral law as transcribed in the legal portion of the Talmud, and subsequent legal codes amending or modifying traditional precepts to conform to contemporary conditions in Halakhah. 

There is a story in the Talmud that is often told when someone is asked to summarize the essence of Judaism. During the first century B.C.E., a great rabbi named Hillel was asked to sum up Judaism while standing on one foot. He replied: "Certainly! What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. That is the Torah. The rest is commentary. Now go and study.” The particulars of every individual belief system are the commentary. 

We are gathered here today to develop a part of that commentary. 

In the fifth of the five books of the Torah, Deuteronomy, we are implored to seek Tzedek, Tzedek Tirdof, “Justice, Justice, Shall thou Pursue.” 

The rabbis and sages suggest that the word “Justice” is doubled because it is not merely enough to pursue justice. One must pursue Justice justly. It is not merely enough to obtain the correct verdict or end. The means by which we reach those just ends must themselves be able to withstand the highest level of ethical scrutiny. 

Let us strive to have the wisdom obtained by listening carefully to our fellow delegates. 

Let us strive to use wisely the fact that God gave us two ears and one mouth and that we use them proportionally. 

May we take this one day to leave our clients, firms, corporations, or other employers as well as our e-mails, iPads, Androids, and N.Y. Times crossword puzzles at the door and focus our entire efforts and the significant brainpower assembled here today on the needs of our profession, our nation, and the best interest of humankind. 

Let us strive to be a beacon to our profession, our country, and our world. To be fair, kind and considerate, giving and compassionate, so that those we serve will be proud of and benefit from the work we are about to do. 

Grant peace unto us and to all God’s creatures, and let us say Amen.