I am sure many of my male and some of female readers have had the opportunity to bench for the mizuman at other peoples houses. I have noticed a few things in my benching days. First of all, you can tell a lot about a person based on what sort of benching starter they choose and second, you can tell a lot about a person based on what they include when saying “berishus….”
So casually enjoying some of the finest brown foods at some frummies house and someone in your party gets picked for benching. You can see the panic on their face as they quickly try and decide during shuir hamalos if they have the ability to do the Mir Velen which is probably the norm at this table. Or will they have the balls to kick it traditional style with their more regular Rabosy Nivurech. The person glances aroud the room for help, they are gasping for air, thinking the judgments that will fly. “If I could only say the Mir Velen- they wont be able to judge me on my suede yarmulke?” Or maybe they are thinking that by saying Rabosy Nivurech they will mess up their shidduch ability. So usually the person sucks it up busts out the Mir Velen, but all of the sudden you notice a major flaw. Instead of the smooth flowing Berishus- you suddenly hear slight hesitation as the bencher tries to be cool and include all the people around the table. Kohanim, Leveim, Baal Habyis and Baalas Habyis. Oh the royal mistake has been made. All of the sudden this impressive Mir Velenite has been cast down to YCT and JTS status- by including the women in the benching. I have seen it many times- and it is assuredly a great way to pick out a real frummy from just another “went to Israel for a couple years and frummed out” faker.
The Mir Velen crowd can be tricky because it is so large and diverse. Most folks merely judge you and throw you in with the charedim when rockin’ the Mir Velen, but this is false and very hurtful for some. Any benching expert will tell you that starting with Mir Velen is not limited to charedim. In fact anyone who appreciates a good herring, can pound shots of slivovitz, argues about the merits of kichel versus tam-tams, speaks Yiddish in back of the shull with old horny men, calls women “broads”, and can remember when milk was delivered every day- is usually a sayer of Mir Velen. They need not be orthodox in any way shape or form- it is simply the way to bench.
It happens to be if you are under the age of 50- you have no right to say Mir Velen- unless you wear a black hat, streimel, spudick, long peyos or happen to have parents who are old herring connoisseurs. Basically the Mir Velen is a part of frummy culture and in recent years with the mixing of the two groups- guests at the table have been trying to sneak in their own Mir Velens. It doesn’t work and most Mir Velen veterans like myself can spot a poser a mile a way.
Just like the guest at a Mir Velen house feels its his duty to try the Mir Velen route for fear of embarrassment- the Mir Velen person sometimes though not as common feels the same way when entering the homes of Rabosy Nivurech people. I myself wonder if the people I am benching with have ever heard the Mir Velen-maybe they have never eaten outside of the upper west side or have lived in trenched in some modern orthodox community their whole life and would think I was saying some piyut rather then benching? All these thoughts run through my head as try and decide my mode of attack.
You also have the left wing yeshiva crowd commonly referred to as Yeshivish Modern or possibly Modern Orthodox Machmir depending on your stereotype that is kind of on the verge of developing a taste for Mir Velen, but instead they say Rabosy Nivurech with the yeshivish accent. They make it sound almost as frum as the Mir Velen people- but not quite and this puts them in more of a left wing crowd.
Of course there is a whole different set of people that I have never actually benched with though I know they exist and this is the Chavroty Nivurech crowd. I am sure many of my readers have had experience with the perpetrators of this group – though I doubt anyone ever heard them bench. This is because the type of folks who would be the sayers of this type of benching never really bench.
It’s basically a feminist, wacky liberal, reform, egalitarian, renewal Judaism, and whatever sort of on fringe kabbalah practicing organic fruitcakes you can find that don’t think women should be excluded by saying Rabosy. It happens to be that there I a whole bunch of gemaras about this topic of women having to make a mizumin without any men around. Whatever it is, the next time someone busts out a Chavroty Nivurech you can stereotype them immediately even before they get to all the Berishus parts. I saw this Chavroty in a siddur while spending some time at the Isabella Freedman center- which is a hippie-organic-self sustaining farm in Connecticut- where many of these neo-socialist views of Judaism are espoused.