[Hat tip MD]
Recently, a question was asked of the Charedi Leumi Posek, Rav Aviner, about a 50 year reunion of a group of couples who had been part of a youth group 50 years prior. They would be attending, were frum, all with their wives, and the idea was that they would recollect memories and have an enjoyable evening. The question asked to him was
Is such a reunion permitted according to Halacha
I guess the mere fact that they asked Rav Aviner the question before going ahead with their reunion is testament to their frumkeit and fidelity to Halacha. Those who are not so beholden to their Rabbi, would not even ask a question.
At any rate, Rav Aviner’s answer was
“חלילה. זו מכבסת מילים לפעילות מעורבת. זה איסור חמור גם אם אלו יראי שמים. ולצערנו יש פעמים רבות פעילות המשך
In other words, definitely not permitted and is a serious halachic infraction even if the participants are frum! Rav Aviner opines that unfortunately, there are sometimes serious outcomes from such events.
In other words, age makes no difference, and one would assume, a fortiori, that this would be forbidden for younger couples. I won’t extrapolate to mixed tables of singles at a wedding who are looking for Shidduchim. Rav Aviner may have the same opinion as R’ Aron Soltoveitchik that this isn’t just permitted but desirable. It is dangerous to extrapolate in Halacha.
Upon hearing of this Psak, respected Rav Amnon Bazak (whose writings I am acquainted with and if I am not mistaken he may have visited Melbourne) of Har Etzyon, disagreed with Rav Aviner on three grounds.
- The attitude of the Rishonim and Acharonim on issues such as this, was and is tightly connected with the practices in such communities. In other words, if it was common place for men and women to meet, then Poskim such as the Bach, opined that it is permitted (if you want to read more about this examine the issue of whether to say שהשמחה במעונו at a mixed Sheva Brachos. If my memory serves me correctly, the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch is Machmir and says no). The point of Rav Bazak was that this is something which may well change from community to community. I wouldn’t expect this to happen in Satmar, or Belz, where the women aren’t even allowed to drive cars, of course.
- If one wants to say “those who are stringent will get a blessing”, this leaves is a sour taste because the idea that they get a blessing on account of people who really are not doing anything wrong according to plain Halacha.
- What’s the point in putting out words like ‘absolutely forbidden’ when this happens all the time, at tables, which involve Chachomim and Roshei Yeshivah at their meals?
There is also the question of when you have two long tables at a Sheva Brachos one with men and the other with women without a Mechitza. Some will still say this is “mixed” other will not, even according to those who argue with the Bach.
Mori V’Rabbi, R’ Hershel Schachter relates that R’ Moshe Feinstein ז’ל and R’ Yaakov Kaminetzy ז’ל and others made weddings and there were mixed tables. He does however caution that times have changed somewhat to those days. He doesn’t use Rav Bazak’s arguments but notes that
- Women tend not to wear the ornate thick dresses that they wore in yesteryear, and sometimes, perhaps too often, are on the boundary of Tzniyus with flimsy clothing which leaves little to the imagination
- The music in those days was much slower and it was rare to find a women or man return to the table shvitzing with all that comes from that phenomenon and fine cloth.
Accordingly, he suggests caution at weddings.
Your views? I believe this is societal and something according to הרגלם and will change from group to group to the extent that a blanket opinion is elusive and probably not advised.
There is a lot of “Ess Past Nisht” and I’m not arguing. I’m just quoting and adding to this article
בענין סתירת הרמבם שלא יתערבו או שלא יסתכלו זה את זה, כבר דשו ביה רבים