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Ask the rabbi Family and Society Year of Mourning for Parents

Mourners eating out

Question
Hi, I read in the Artscroll Halacha book that during the twelve months of mourning, a person should not "...eat at any group meal at all outside of one’s home..." It’s quoted from SA 391:1-3. Would getting a coffee or ice cream or the like at a coffee house or restaruant (something that is significantly less than a meal) with a single friend be assur by this? What about with a parent (who is no longer an avel)? Thank you. Kol Tuv.
Answer
Shalom, Thank you for your question. As it highlights, the definition of a forbidden meal for mourners is hard to pin down because of its festive nature. Ways of eating out have changed over time, and so how to apply this halacha is not so clear-cut. The deciding factor would seem to be whether the meal you are considering in the restaurant or coffee shop, would be labeled as a "party" or "special event" or not. This is a factor of both how many people are eating together, and location. So whilst a mourner may certainly eat their lunch in the lunch room (or cafeteria) of their work, attending the end of year workers' banquet would be forbidden. As you can see, exactly where to draw the line may very well be an individual decision, in that what is a special occasion for one, may be a regular weekly dinner out with the family for another. Based on this, it would seem that both scenarios you asked about would be permitted. May all the mourners be comforted together with all who mourn Zion and the Temple. Blessings
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