May I arrange a business brunch on Friday morning?
By Rabbi Chaim Hillel Raskin, Rov of Anash in Petach Tikvah.
One of the highlights of Shabbos is the Friday night seuda. To ensure that a person will enter Shabbos with an appetite and enjoy the seuda, Chazal prohibit making a large celebratory meal anytime on Friday, even in the morning. Another reason given is that one should have ample time on Friday to prepare for Shabbos.
An ordinary weekday meal (i.e. your average lunch) is permitted until sunset, yet it is a mitzva to refrain from beginning any meal involving more than two ounces of bread or pastries when less than three seasonal hours are left to sunset, so that you enter Shabbos with a desire to eat. This doesn’t apply to snacks, though whenever you eat throughout the day, you should keep the night seuda in mind and make sure to leave an ample appetite for the seuda.
Even a seudas mitzva may not be scheduled for Friday if it is not intrinsically associated with that day. For example, a sheva brachos meal or a siyum masechta may not be held on Friday, and a delayed pidyon haben should be performed without a meal.
A seudas mitzva whose proper time is on Friday may be held. Examples include a bris (even a late one, since it may not be postponed unnecessarily), a pidyon haben on the thirty first day, and a bar mitzva celebration on the birthday. These meals are permitted even if they will impact the night seuda, since this feast is also a mitzva and its time is on Friday. (If he cannot eat on Friday night, he must have an extra meal on Shabbos day.) Yet, it is preferable to start these meals at least three seasonal hours before sunset.
While the Alter Rebbe mentions limiting invitations to ten people besides immediate relatives, the prevalent custom is to be lenient provided that the meal begins before midday or at least before the tenth hour.
Therefore, a business brunch may be held on Friday morning or early afternoon, as long as it is not a lavish meal and one will still have an appetite in the evening.
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