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The shidduch system, according to many sources, isn't working and we're in a "shidduch crisis." See, e.g. this article. People complain, but nothing gets done.

I don't see that the shadchan system is working for everyone with resumes and references is really working. Among non-Hasidic Jews, there is a surplus of women over 24 who are still single, and in the Hasidic community there is a surplus of men over 24 who have not married. (Source, Mishpacha magazine, Succos edition 2015).

I have observed that the restrictions on getting single boys and girls in the same room could go to the heart of the problem. Such restrictions weren't always an issue, however. I heard that Rabbi Moshe David Tendler, shlita, a senior rosh yeshiva at Yeshiva University's rabbinic college and son-in-law of Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt'l, was married at a wedding where the tables had mixed-sex seating and singles were put at smaller tables so they could meet and talk. Rav Tendler said about that mixing the singles was approved by his father-in-law but he facetiously added "some would say my father-in-law didn't know the halacha.") Also, I understand from Rabbi Berel Wein, shlita, that mixed seating at weddings was common at the weddings of many European gedolim and their sons and daughters, with the lone exception of Hungary. He said since the Germans took over Hungary last, more Jews survived and so did their customs.

Why shouldn't I invite boys from the yeshiva gedolah to meet single girls of the same age at my Shabbos table? Would it be better if I invited their parents as well? What sources say that inviting singles to my home to meet at a Shabbos meal, for purposes of helping them to find a shidduch, is improper?

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    I would expect that all responsa relevant to this question would be specific to the communal context in which they were written. (I'm not saying that this is a request for pesak, just pointing out that it may be difficult to get answers that are generally-applicable.) – Isaac Moses Dec 31 '15 at 17:51
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    I think this is one of those things that just kind of depends on the community. In MO circles, nobody would think twice about having single boys and girls together at one meal. In fact, I think it's pretty common for "young professionals" to organize large meals with people of both genders. – Daniel Dec 31 '15 at 18:18
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    Sounds like a mitzvah to me. Yasher Koach! – Mike Dec 31 '15 at 19:03
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    Perhaps, I'm "old fashioned" in that I agree with you. Not only was this done, but there were so many singles weekends in the NY area, esp. that I couldn't keep up with it. One of the Shabbat zemirot, "Lehit'aneg Beta'anugim* says that on Shabbat one is allowed to arrange shidduchim! I'm no rav, but, IMO, if you want to be a pioneer, I can't se what's wrong with doing this. If they had singles' weekends for so many years in a hotel, why can't you do a smaller version of this in your home or your shul? If you're in the NYC area and end up doing this, I'm sending over at least 1 of my boys. – DanF Dec 31 '15 at 19:18
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    @DanF AFAIK that zemer refers to the financial considerations of the involved parties in a shidduch. It had nothing to do with the potential bride or groom. – mevaqesh Dec 31 '15 at 21:06
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As long as the atmosphere is appropriate (and customs of some communities notwithstanding), there is nothing formally wrong with a mixed table. Rav Moshe in OC 1.39 states clearly that outside of public gatherings, there is no requirement to separate the sexes (his proof: Chana entered the Ezrat Yisrael of the Mishkan for Eli to notice her davening!) in cases which will not lead to lightheaded behaviour (kalut rosh), even though he disapproves of meetings without a mechitza (YD 2.109). However, it is a fine line and relies on the maturity of all participants not to transgress serious prohibitions.

The relevant halacha here is Even HaEzer at the beginning of siman 21: "A person must distance himself from women to a very great extent; it is forbidden to signal with his hands or feet, or to wink at any forbidden relation. It is forbidden to joke with her, to be lightheaded opposite her, or to gaze at her beauty. Even to smell her perfume is forbidden."

Even HaEzer 21:3 makes it very clear that that halacha is not advocating boys and girls not go on dates! What is forbidden is friendship or casual social interaction between the sexes. A one-on-one date would seem to be the best combination of serious/appropriate in atmosphere plus effective in meeting the other person.

The question is, will mixed Shabbos tables solve more problems than they lead to, or vice versa? Is every person there a serious prospective (or "on paper") match for every member of the opposite sex? Is the Shabbos table environment really the most conducive to two people seriously considering each other as a partner? Or are we just creating a friendly, lighthearted and jocular social scene?

Wouldn't it be more effective to sit down with each of the guests, make a list of their shidduch priorities, and set them up on dates where appropriate?

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    Seems this halacha remains unpopular with certain audiences... – Ari Heitner Apr 3 '17 at 20:42
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    Can you please clarify how I'm handwaving? Source seems clear: kalut rosh is a big problem. I am not aware of any written source [will double check R'Moshe ... IY"H tomorrow] that says "non-kalut-rosh is OK" but it is a correct diyuk, and I heard as much orally from R'Yitzchok Berkovits. – Ari Heitner Apr 3 '17 at 20:59
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    @AriHeitner It's not that it's unpopular. It's that it's incomplete. You can't just cite 21:1 without noting 21:3! This answer is incredibly misleading. You are supposed to make sure a person you may marry is appropriate for you. You aren't supposed to avoid them excessively. Having a Shabbat meal with someone before marrying them should basically be required in most circles. – Double AA Apr 3 '17 at 21:14
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    @ShmuelBrin if so, it's an issur d'Oraita. That is the point I am trying to make: it is a situation which naturally leads to serious problems. – Ari Heitner Apr 4 '17 at 10:18
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    @DoubleAA that is also correct. I didn't feel it was directly relevant to the question (which wasn't, "Should you meet the person you intend to marry?" - I did not think there was any assumption one might try to do otherwise), but I will add it for completeness. – Ari Heitner Apr 4 '17 at 10:19

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