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May an Aveil attend a wedding of a sibling or neighbor? May he eat there? How about a Sheva Brachos? Bar Mitzva? Bris? Is there a difference in the Sheloshim and the remainder of the year?

  • Also, please clarify "aveil". I assume that you mean someone mourning for a parent, correct? – DanF Dec 28 '15 at 18:18
  • @DanF: For anyone other than a parent the mourning period is only for thirty days. My question is for any Aveil, although for a parent it extends for the entire year and there may be differences in the period after the first thirty days. – Gershon Gold Dec 28 '15 at 18:19
  • Similar: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/22778 – msh210 Dec 28 '15 at 18:26
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[This is slightly long so let me point right away to other helpful sources here, here and here. The last two include primary references to SA and Aruch Hashulchan.]

In one of the classic English books on the topic (The Jewish Way in Death and Mourning), R Maurice Lamm writes

  • During shiva the mourner must refrain from doing those things which even possibly evoke joy

  • Before sheloshim, which ends the mourning observance for those bereaved of relatives other than parents, joyous religious and social occasions under normal circumstances are prohibited

  • After sheloshim, all festivities are permitted for those who don't mourn parents

  • For those who mourn parents, the sheloshim period requires a more intense restraint from joy than the remaining months of the year. For example, the bereaved are permitted to attend a Bar Mitzvah party (all may obviously attend the synagogue service) during sheloshim (after shiva) together so long as they avoid listening to the instrumental music and participating in the dinner together with the celebrants. After sheloshim, and for the balance of the year, however, they may participate fully in the dinner if the Bar Mitzvah lad speaks on some Torah subject, making the celebration a truly religious function.

Here is how he defines joy

Music, especially dance music, and especially that which is enjoyed in the company of others, is a clear mark of gaiety. Another criteria is the festive dining with a celebrant. A sumptuous celebration dinner surely is a joyous occasion. There are moments, at a wedding reception or on a pleasure cruise, for example, when simply being present in a hall for dancing and dining, without participating in either, is not permitted the mourner. It is a spirit of public light-heartedness that is to be avoided. It should be noted that the joy that is prohibited the mourner is commensurate with the degree and period of mourning, and also with the relation to the deceased.

On specifics he rules as follows

Brit

  • The mourner who has just become a father may attend the brit of his son even the very first day after interment
  • The mohel, if there is no other competent one available, may perform the brit, even during his shiva. He should not participate in the festive meal during sheloshim if he is mourning a parent, but may do so (after shiva) if he is mourning other relatives.

Pidyon Haben

  • The laws of pidyon ha'ben are similar to those of b'rit [and the Kohen can do what the mohel does]

Bar mitsva

  • A parent in mourning may prepare the Bar Mitzvah party even during sheloshim, so long as it is after shiva. He should not, however, eat the meal with the guests. He may eat in another room, and socialize with the guests during the meal proper, without music.
  • All mourners, whether or not they are related to the Bar Mitzvah, may attend the celebration during sheloshim, but should avoid eating at the dinner or listening to music. After sheloshim, the mourner for parents may attend and participate in the meal if the celebrant speaks on matters of Torah, thus indicating that it is a simchah shel mitzvah, a religious occasion.

Wedding ceremony

  • If the ceremony takes place in a catering hall or similar place where music is played, the general rule is that mourners for parents should not attend for 12 months and for other relatives 30 days
  • In the catering hall proper, if the orchestra is not present, mourners for parents may attend after sheloshim
  • If the wedding takes place in a synagogue, where customarily there is only vocal but no instrumental music, the mourner for parents may attend after Shiva
  • After the sheloshim, in such case, the mourner for parents may even participate in the recital of the blessings at the ceremony and dress up for the occasion. If there is instrumental music he may not attend at all until the end of the year
  • When mourners do attend at such times that are not normally permissible, they must perform some useful function
    • Relatives who attend after shiva (during sheloshim), must serve as ushers or helpers at the ceremony, even if they are not mourning parents. These mourners, of course, may attend after sheloshim without this requirement
    • Close friends of the celebrant who are in mourning should not attend the wedding ceremony during sheloshim. However, if they feel that their absence will cause the bride or groom remorse or pain, they may attend as assistants before the ceremony. After sheloshim, if they are mourning parents, these friends may attend the affair if they asist before the ceremony

Wedding dinner

  • Dining at a festive meal with friends and relatives falls directly within the category of simchah, joy, and should be avoided by the mourner until after 12 months when mourning for parents, and 30 days when mourning for other relatives. In pressing circumstances, mourners should proceed as follows

    • Father and mother, brother and sister, and children of the bride or
      groom, may attend the ceremony and eat at the dinner during sheloshim even if they are in mourning for parents. They should, however, be of some help in the preparation or service at the meal, or in the serving of drinks, and so on
    • Other relatives of the couple may join the wedding reception after sheloshim, if they mourn parents, (other mourners after shiva) but should help in serving.

As always ask your local rav for questions on specific situations.

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Highlights from this guide:

A mourner should not attend any public meal. E.g., if food is served at a Torah lecture, he may not eat there. This is specifically a sit-down meal. He may snack, however.

Siyum/ Brit ? Bar Mitzvah:

After 30 days he may eat at a siyum ofr Bar Mitzvah He may attend a brit, but may not eat at the meal If there is live music at any of these events, he must leave

Weddings

He may not attend any part of the wedding except the chuppah. He may not be in the wedding hall or listen to music after the chuppah, either. Exceptions:

  • If the mourner is the parent, he may fully participate
  • If the mourner is getting married, he must wait until after the shloshim period

Sheva Brachot, I believe fall in the category of "public meals", and he cannot attend them. I would assume that there is an exception if he is a parent. CYOR.

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