The Alter Rebbe, the first Chabad Rebbe, established the custom of dividing the entire Talmud, each tractate to be studied by another individual in each Chassidic community, every year. The division takes place on 19 Kislev, “the Rosh Hashanah of Chassidus.”
The Rebbe once explained the appropriateness of this date: Although comprised of several seemingly disparate parts, the entire Torah is essentially one entity. This holism of Torah is only achieved in the presence of the revealed and hidden elements of Torah, represented by the Talmud and Chassidic teachings, respectively. Thus, it is natural that the division of the Talmud was established on the 19th of Kislev, when Chassidism is celebrated.
Throughout the years, the Rebbe would observe the division of the Talmud at the 19 Kislev farbrengen—personally filling out an index card with his name and the tractate of his choice. With the exception of 1952, when the siyum was made by Rabbi Meir Ashkenazi, former Chief Rabbi of Shanghai, the Rebbe himself would ceremoniously complete the Talmud on behalf of all the participants.
This 19 Kislev, we encourage you to take a tractate. Worried about how you’ll learn it? We’re glad to share that Chabad.org has engaging video classes on most of the Talmud (with more being added every day) to help you along. Featuring Rabbi Avraham Zajac, the classes fuse the legalism of the Talmud with the mysticism of Kabbalah, with Chassidic insights sprinkled throughout the lesson.