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The other day, I was learning with a chavrusa in shul after maariv. The people sitting in front of us and behind us held a conversation kind of over our heads, in which one asked the other where his chavrusa was, and was told that he was at a siyum. However, the siyum was not fleishig, because he had asked the rabbi (a widely respected Orthodox rabbi and competent posek) and the rabbi told him that he should not have meat by that siyum.

When my chavrusa broke into the conversation to ask why that might be, they got very defensive and pretty much said "it's none of your business." (so then why have that conversation in public...?)

Why might someone be allowed to make a siyum during the Nine Days, but not be allowed to have meat by the siyum? Bonus brownie points if your explanation also covers why this might be a sensitive topic.

  • judaism.stackexchange.com/a/44335/759 You know, surprisingly not everyone wants to pig out while mourning the loss of the Temple and the thousands of years of Jewish tragedy in our exile. – Double AA Jul 23 '15 at 2:19
  • @DoubleAA That's certainly a fair point. ...I don't think the point here was "do not want to," but rather "not allowed to." If someone wants to skip it that's fine, but I'm pretty sure all agree that it's allowed.... – MTL Jul 23 '15 at 2:24
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    Another strange thought ... It may be just a kashrut problem - either with the meat or with the host's home. Or, maybe, the host really didn't complete a masechta but is making a siyum, anyway? – DanF Jul 23 '15 at 3:14
  • @DanF That's a possibility...though this man's father is a distinguished (retired) rabbi, so also unlikely – MTL Jul 23 '15 at 3:15
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    @Shokhet Some have the custom not to anyway, see sam's answer. I have never eaten meat at a Siyum during the 9 days and have no plans to. כדאי הוא בית אלקינו – Double AA Jul 23 '15 at 13:12
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The Aruch Hashulchan 551:28 writes:

ודע שיש שמניחים הסיום מסכת על ימים אלו, כדי לאכול בשר. ודבר מכוער הוא, דאף על גב דבמועד קטן (ט א) מוכח דמותר לשייר מקצת הגמר לסיום מצוה, כדאיתא שם בבניין בית המקדש עיין שם, מכל מקום להניח לכתחילה בשביל אכילת בשר – לא נאה ולא יאה.‏

ויש שלומדים לכתחלה מסכת כדי לעשות סיום בימים אלו, ודבר זה אפשר, כדי לעשות שעל ידי זה יעסוק בתורה. מיהו, אין לבקש על הסיום רק תלמידי חכמים השייכים ללימוד התורה. ואנחנו לא נהגנו בסיום, ואפילו כשיארע סיום בימים אלו – אנו מניחין הסיום עד אחר תשעה באב, כדי שנוכל לשמוח בשמחת הסיום לכבוד התורה כראוי.‏

According to the Aruch Hashulchan one should wait until after tisha bav and he writes that's how they acted. He also writes to make a siyum specifically to eat meat is a disgusting (mechuar) thing to do even if it's technically mutar.

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A minor's siyum may not allow one to eat meat. A siyum on certain texts may not, either. Those are two possibilities, but, of course, as I was not privy to the conversation you overheard, I have no idea what the fellow's reaosn was.

  • Good ideas! +1 ...it's unlikely that this was a minor's siyum, because (if I remember correctly) the siyum belonged to the absent chavrusa's father (but I'm not sure of this, and I didn't mention it in the question) – MTL Jul 23 '15 at 14:51
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Contrary to popular belief, it's not that simple for one to just go to a Siyum during the Nine Days and eat meat (and wine, as it's part of the same custom) at the meal. While undoubtedly it isn't forbidden, many authorities limit those who can partake of the meat to family and 'close friends' (defined as someone who you would invite to a meal at another time, and some limiting it further to 'those who strengthened the hands of the learner'), with some even limiting it to only 10 close friends.

The Siyum in question might have been kept Pareve to follow those opinions.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 122:8, with footnotes of the Mishnah Berurah.

As to why the person you asked got all defensive, well, maybe he felt he was being intruded on in his conversation. He may have been speaking in public, but that doesn't mean he was speaking publicly ;)

  • Fair point. (and I wasn't all too worried about the "speaking publicly" bit; I know that was probably it ;) – MTL Jul 23 '15 at 4:23
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    @Shokhet If people are holding a conversation in public and over your head, I'd say they relinquished their right to complain when you chime in over a not-especially-personal halachic issue. And if Mr. A is already sharing information about his chavrusa with Mr. B., it seems kind of sanctimonious for him to assume the mantle of arbiter (on behalf of his chavrusa) over who can and can't participate in his very audible conversation. (I wasn't there, of course, and I don't know all the details of this specific case. Perhaps there's some way to judge the individuals here l'kaf z'chus). – Fred Jul 23 '15 at 5:45

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