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Rav Binyamin Kamentzky, whom I recently saw, told me that until about 30 - 25 years ago, it was very common for men and women to sit together at weddings, Bar Mitzvah and other seudei mitzvah run by "black hat" / yeshivish crowds.

Things changed about 30 years ago, and separate seating became more of the norm. As a matter of fact, in most Boro Park / Williamsburg affairs that I have attended in the past 20 years, not only do they sit separately, but may of these places have separate entrances as well as separate coat checks.

I'm curious:

Are separate seating, entrances and coat rooms a halachic requirement? If not, what is the basis for doing this, and why or what caused the trend to change?

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    As with nearly all matters of modesty, communal norms play a large factor in determining what is appropriate in a given context. – Double AA Aug 18 '15 at 21:38
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    @hazoriz I'm not sure what makes you claim this. I've been to numerous weddings prior to 30 years ago. I know I'm not "supposed to look", but there were plenty of women dancing. – DanF Aug 18 '15 at 21:58
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    @hazoriz Dancing seems to have nothing to do with the question which asked about separate "seating, entrances and coat rooms". – Double AA Aug 18 '15 at 22:38
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    Rabbi Mordechai Willig, who married more than 30 years ago, has said in shiurim that there was dancing by both men and women at his wedding with no mechitza. He makes it sound quite common. @hazoriz, don't engage in revisionist history. – Ze'ev Felsen Oct 27 '15 at 23:08
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Saifer Hasidim 1120 brings that you can not say shehasimha bmoinoi if woman are sitting with men

So it seems to me that halohacly it is not required, but it is preferable

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As @sam commented below this minhag (not to say shehasimha bmoinoi) is brought in the BaCh (on the tur)

Sam's comment

"http://beta.hebrewbooks.org/tursa.aspx?a=eh_x7291 see the Bach (12) from the words B'krakow"

  • +1 but I doubt you will get too many upvotes for this on this site:) – user6591 Sep 6 '15 at 2:19
  • @user6591 Thank you, (for the people of this site) (it was written before the modern hasidim) (en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sefer_Hasidim) – hazoriz Sep 6 '15 at 2:28
  • I decided to downvote for two reasons - 1) There is a "condition" attached to the mized seating, namely stating "Hirhurim sham", which implies that there are "improper thoughts". While, the statement may imply that such thoughts may be inevitable in a mixed seating environment, this is not always the case. 2) It doesn't answer my question if separate seating is required. This just suggests that a phrase in benching must be omitted. OK, so you omit it, if needed. It doesn't state that such omission is required in bentching. – DanF Oct 26 '15 at 15:25
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    @DanF 1) by hirhurim it has a ש in my understanding is that it can only be understood as inevitable (it is a reason not a condition) (how can it mean condition if it is impossible to check) 2) you are right I will edit my answer – hazoriz Oct 26 '15 at 15:37
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    @DanF I do not see a difference, the source I brought was about sheva brochois ( not sposificly wedding as is seen from the bach), but I do not understand why other simchas should be different it seems that it is always recommend not to happen – hazoriz Oct 27 '15 at 23:13
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A story told to me by Reb Moshe Feinstein's second cousin.

Reb Moshe was sitting at a wedding with his family. This included his children and their spouses. Someone came over and asked in shock 'Reb Moshe! How can you sit here in mixed seating?!' Reb Moshe responded equally shocked 'Mixed seating?! Heaven forbid! This is my family.'

Two very important points. What he thought of mixed seating, and what he thought was not considered mixed seating.

That being said, even if Rabbi Kaminetzky's report is true (it kind of is), that does not mean there was Rabbinic approval behind it. Either the original practice or the new one, but many times the Rabbis leave things as is and let society steer it's own course, as long as it doesn't veer too far off. Just think of the backlash from all the recent times Rabbis tried getting involved. If they disapproved of mixed seating they may have kept quite about it while choosing the battle of mixed dancing. If they disapproved of separating the families, they may have kept quite being happy that at least now people who should not be sitting together, won't be.

On the subject, I can tell you of at least one major yeshiva where the Kalla would sit in the men's section by Sheva Brachos held in the yeshiva. Around fifteen or twenty years ago the bacharim decided this was a breach of tznius and complained to the world famous Rosh Yeshiva to keep her in the lady's section. He said ok, fine, whatever (in Yidish). New 'chumra' invented by the masses. Keep in mind that until that point he was the one sitting at the dais table with the young couple.

Another incident was in the minyan of one the somewhat famous poskim from last generation who never required a mechitza up during dancing on Simchas Torah. Low and behold, when he passed away his successor and some of the tzibur decided they wanted one up. Another new 'chumra'. By the people, for the people.

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    This seems more like an expanded comment than an answer to the question. I asked if there was a halachic obligation to do so. – DanF Feb 18 '16 at 16:57
  • I think big rabbis actions on the issues along with commentary constitutes a source for a halcha. But to each their own. – user6591 Feb 18 '16 at 17:01

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