See Hebrew file: Yeshiva Me'urevet
In the book of customs for the entire year, by Rabbenu Yitzchak Tirna, par. 14, (quoted by the Bach, in Tur Even Ha'Ezer – Blessing the grooms – end of par. 62), in his words: "Any place where men and women see each other (like in a wedding feast), we should not include in the blessing, of the grace after the meal 'that joy is in G-d's Abode,' since there is no joy before G-d in a place where there are thoughts of misbehaviour."
Likewise in Kitzur Shulchan Aruch by Rabbi Shlomo Gantzfried, par. 149:1, Laws of Grace after the meal of a wedding and the commandment to rejoice the groom and bride: "We must be careful not to eat men and women in one room! [even on separate tables], Since if men and women eat in the same room, [without a partition for the 5 senses] – we do not say that 'There is joy in G-d's Abode,' [in the blessings of Zimun before the grace after the meal], "Since there is no joy [to the Creator of the world in a place] where the evil inclination is master!"
Most probably, where men and women are sitting together, the setting is not considered as a feast of a Mitzvah where we have an obligation to rejoice, and the strength of the blessings are deteriorated! Since the intensity of a woman's presence dominates over our physical drive which is fed from our five senses, and creates in every man mental obstructions which interferes with our concentration in prayer to our Creator, and also in our elation and attachment with the joy of celebrating the Mitzvah.
Therefore, every feast of a Mitzvah, 'in order that the joy should be in G-d's abode,' like any prayer with a Minyan, requires a partition for the five senses, which includes a barrier for the sense of sight.
The social disadvantages, of mix seating of men and women at the same table and/or the same room, at conventions and social gatherings, above and beyond issues of modesty and Jewish religious requirements, are:
1. In a separate seating, when men and women are found in different places, every man can approach or sit next to any other man, and any woman next to any other woman, and opportunities opens up for new acquaintances, conversations with old and new friends and great is eating together that draws the hearts closer. The people present, constantly mix, speak, learn and encourage each other, which is a great advantage. In contrast, the mixed sitting of husbands with their wives and children, creates closed social circles which is not fair and not accepted to intrude into.
With the wife and the family we sit in our homes our castles which is locked for the outside world. We bother to come to a social happening in order to be open to all the guest, without the closed circle of the family bond.
2. It is important to the active participants of conventions and social gatherings to meet their colleagues, in order to discuss professional and actual issues. Men and women are mentally very different and the topics of their conversation are also very different. In a mix seating, politeness requires "Ladies First" and to give women more than their share to lead the conversation, consequently, in general the topics of conversation becomes futility, not for which the men and women arrived to the convention or to the social gathering.
The mixed seating in social gathering do limit and prevent many social opportunities, beyond other topics that here is not the place to discuss them. It is a great disadvantage for a true success of any social gathering, and especially to a festive Mitzvah meal and Heavenly blessings, above and beyond the Jewish holy tradition.
"Great is eating together that draws the hearts closer!" Why and How?
"Man was created in 3 ways like angels:
1. with the capacity of thinking.
3. walking upright on two legs.
And in 3 ways like animals:
1. we eat and drink.
3. defecate like animals." (Chagigah 16, Avot d’Rabbi Natan 37).
Any man is proud about his resemblance to angels, therefore he likes to speak in public, if possible that the entire world will hear and see his speech capacity, and he is ashamed and covers up his resemblance to animals. Therefore, one who eat publicly in the street do resemble to a dog, and cannot serve as a witness. Since a person who do not possess self-respect, and is not ashamed to eat in the street like a dog, he also would not be ashamed to lie, from fear to be caught as a liar, therefore, we cannot trust his testimony.
Until we eat together, there are many barriers between human beings, which are created by the difference in:
2. quantity and quality of knowledge,
3. the weight of their possessions,
4. the value of their lineage,
5. goals and values etc.
The moment we eat together all the barriers tumble down, since at the table we are all of an equal resemblance to animals, we are present in the same boat and become brothers to the same trouble. Therefore, "Great is eating together that draws the hearts closer."
© By Imanuel Ravad, Mikva-Tikva, 29 Shvat 5766.