"Amen Meals"

On the Air with Rav Aviner - Shut Radio
Q: What is Ha-Rav's opinion about "Amen Meals" (participants take different types of food, recite a blessing before eating and those who hear the blessings answer "Amen")?
A: This is a new creation. It is permissible to participate since they are not doing anything inappropriate; they are reciting blessings and saying "amen." Why do women do this? In order to increase merits for themselves, for the sick, for young women to find mates, etc… But if people want to increase merits they do not have to invent new venues. The problem of increasing merit has always existed, and we have already been told what to do: repent, pray and give tzedakah (prayers of the High Holidays). One should pray, give the money one would spend on the "Amen meal" to tzedakah and repent for things he is not doing well. Is it worthwhile to participate in an "Amen meal"? It is preferable to increase merits not through newly created paths but through well-established and clear ones. There is, however, another aspect to these meals: they are a social gathering. Some women are being constricted at home by running the home and taking care of the children and they need to get together with friends. Without friends they will die, as it says in the Gemara: "friendship or death" (Ta'anit 23a). Instead of bumping into friends at the supermarket and chatting, they recite blessings and answer amen. This is fine, but if it is to increase merits, Hashem already thought of this and gave us 613 mitzvot and we do not have to create new things.
Q: What about women gathering to separate challah?
A: This is also a new creation. If one bakes and uses a certain amount of flour there is a mitzvah to separate challah, but nowhere is it written that people should gather together to do so. It is possible to take that time and use it to fulfill other mitzvot - ancient creations.