The Weekly Quill — The Quill Intelligence Interview Series: Tobias Levkovich

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And now I pray thee, let the power of the Lord be great, accordingly as thou hast spoken. Remember, O Lord, thy tender mercies and thy loving kindness; for they have been ever of old. 

Magnified and sanctified be his great name in the world which he hath created according to his will. May he establish his kingdom during your life and during your days, and during the life of all the house of Israel, even speedily and at a near time, and say ye, Amen. 

Let his great name be blessed forever and to all eternity. 

Blessed, praised and glorified, exalted and extolled and honored, magnified and lauded be the name of the Holy One, blessed be he; though he be high above all the blessings and hymns, praises and consolations which are uttered in the world; and say ye, Amen. 

Let the name of the Lord be blessed from this time forth and for evermore. May there be abundant peace from heaven, and life for us and for all Israel; and say ye, Amen. 

Our help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

Mourner’s Kaddish
There is respect. And there is reverence. The distinction is not subtle. Not even the highest esteem equates to homage. Faith alone teaches how to offer the former and bestow the latter. The Torah is a perfect reference. It singles out parents for the highest honors when they are among us; any who dare curse their parent risks death. In this same spirit, the Talmud, Jewish law, commands a higher bar is crossed to fully revere one’s parents after they’ve passed. At the extreme, the idea is not to supersede the grief of a child whose death precedes their parents’. Rather, it is the coda the passage of time naturally decrees. Parents who have performed their duties give unconditionally from the womb until the end of their own days. Consequences are conveyed. Educations are conferred. Values are bequeathed.

In the end, children are all that remain of parents. That is why in the Jewish faith, the period of mourning the death of a parent is the most prolonged. For one year, or 12 months on the Jewish calendar, religious celebrations, such as weddings, are prohibited. The extended period also entails observing the Mourner’s Kaddish, or memorial prayer, each and every day in the synagogue for eleven, not 12 months. There’s a reason for the eleven: the maximum a person can stay in the netherworld is 12 months; even the most stained of souls atones by that time. It follows that reciting Kaddish for a full year implies a parent is unredeemable, hence the understandably slightly shorter span of Kaddish recitation.

The nuances of Jewish law would never have neared my radar if not for my longtime friendship with Citi’s Chief U.S. Equity Strategist, Tobias Levkovich, who recently marked his 20th year with the bank. Years ago, while breaking bread at a kosher sports bar in Manhattan when he was still traveling the world to visit institutional clients, he was also in the middle of mourning his mother’s passing. Though something of a challenge for those planning the extensive journeys, he always stayed at a hotel within walking distance to a synagogue so he could adhere to Kaddish’s strictures and, in doing so, properly honor his mother’s life. That’s a good son. It’s also a story you never forget.

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