Can I Plan a Siyum for the Nine Days?
by Rabbi Eli Gersten of the Orthodox Union
I have almost finished learning a Masechta (volume of Talmud). May I slow down (i.e., learn other topics or in greater depth), so that I will be able to finish my learning and make a siyum at a time that is more convenient for me, like coinciding with the Nine Days [so I can eat meat]?
The Shach (YD 246:27) writes that one may leave over a small portion of their learning so that a siyum can be celebrated at a time that is more convenient. However, the Elya Rabba (551:26) writes that one may not speed up or slow down their learning just so that they will be able to make a siyum with meat during the Nine Days. The Minchat Yitzchak (2:93) explains that all agree in general that one can speed up or delay a siyum for a more convenient time, but the Elya Rabba did not permit doing this to make a siyum during the Nine Days. Doing so would demonstrate that the siyum is simply an excuse to eat meat. If that is the case, it is not a seudat mitzvah, but an excuse to have pleasure.
However, the Minchat Yitzchak writes that not all poskim agree with the Elya Rabba. He infers from the writings of Rav Yaakov Emden (Siddur Yaavetz – Bein Hametzarim) that one may speed up or slow down their learning in order to make a siyum during the Nine Days. Those who are lenient are following this opinion. So ask your Rav which opinion he agrees with.