It is getting progressively more and more annoying to lead a mezuman. How many people do I need to mention when I b’r’shus? When I was a kid, all was simple: Maranan V’rabanan V’rabosai. That was it. There was no need to ask permission from anyone else. That was probably because I only led the mezuman in school. When I was in high school, I began adding my father into it when I was at home. Shortly after that, following a few meals at friends’ houses I began to include the head of household. But then it got way, WAY out of hand.
People began to get upset when the m’zamen left out the wife of the person whose house it is. And then, when you start to add in the wife, be sure not to do it everywhere you go, because some people think you’re one of “those” people. You know who you are. After that, it seemed like every single person at the table got added in. “Ishti” is common; “Achi” and “Achoti” have been added, too. And just in case there is anyone still insulted, the end is “Kol ham’subin kan,” even when the one leading has already added in every single person at the table (I’ve experienced this more than once).
As a Kohen, I often get to lead, but G-d forbid someone else does it and doesn’t use “b’r’shus haKohen,” he is lambasted by the rest of the table for forgetting me. How dare he forget to honor me! What is he thinking? Doesn’t he know how to do this? Once, while I was engaged, I went out to lunch with two friends. One was also engaged. The single guy led the mezuman and said “b’r’shus chasanim d’nanim. New level. And on and on it goes. People keep trying to outdo each other by thinking up newer and newer people to ask permission from in order to bentch.
And I am not immune to this either. I once said “b’r’shus ba’al haSuccah hazeh” on Succos. What’s next? Will someone say b’r’shus ba’al hamarpeset hazeh” at a bar-b-que, or b’r’shus ba’al hasimcha hazeh at a sheva b’rachos in a restaurant? (Actually, it would be ba’alei hasmcha hazeh” lest we leave out the wife.)
The point is that it’s far too much. I’m just going to resort back to what’s in the bentcher. No frills. Just "b'r'shus maranan v'rabanan v'rabosai," like the Lord intended.
"If I" is the among the shortest palindromes in the English language.
If I had a million dollars... If I had someone to love... If I had a brain... If I had a heart... If I had the courage... If I were a rich man... If I go crazy... If I had a hammer... If I keep thinking about "If I"....