CHULIN 57 (17 Shevat) - Dedicated by Mrs. Idelle Rudman in memory of her husband, Harav Moshe Reuven Rudman ben Harav Yosef Tuvia Rudman, on his Yahrzeit.
1) EXAMINING THE "TZOMES HA'GIDIN"
OPINIONS: The Mishnah (56b) states that a bird with a broken leg is not a Tereifah (unless it is the upper part of the leg, and the bone protrudes outwards through the skin). The Gemara relates that a basketful of birds with broken legs was brought to Rava, and he examined the area of the "Tzomes ha'Gidin" ("the intersection of the sinews") in the legs of the birds, and he permitted the birds.
RASHI (DH b'Tzomes ha'Gidin) writes that there are sixteen sinews in the Tzomes ha'Gidin that Rava examined. The SHULCHAN ARUCH (YD 56:6) rules that if a majority of one of these sinews is cut, then the bird is rendered a Tereifah.
Does every bird need to be examined to ascertain that all of its sinews in the Tzomes ha'Gidin are intact, or is it assumed that they are intact unless there exists some reason (such as a broken leg) to suspect otherwise?
(a) The PRI MEGADIM (introduction to YD 39) writes in the name of the MINCHAS YAKOV that the reason why there is no obligation to examine an animal for each of the eighteen different types of Tereifos (with the exception of the lungs) is that one may rely on the Rov that dictates that most animals are not Tereifos when, otherwise, considerable exertion would be involved. The RAMBAM (Hilchos Shechitah 11:12) apparently extends this principle to a bird and states that "we have never heard of anyone requiring that a bird be examined in this manner, unless there is a suspicion that the bird is a Tereifah."
However, RAV MOSHE FEINSTEIN zt'l (in IGROS MOSHE YD 1:19) rules that this does not mean that one may slaughter birds and prepare them for consumption without examining them at all. The Shochet must first open the bird and conduct a brief check (which does not involve much exertion, as per the logic of the Pri Megadim) in order to determine that there is no problem that is easily spotted that renders a bird a Tereifah. Only after he performs this examination and finds nothing out of the ordinary may the bird be prepared for consumption.
(b) The MINCHAS YITZCHAK (7:52) proves from the TAZ and SHACH (YD 56:9) that the Tzomes ha'Gidin normally does not need to be checked at all. The REMA there says that since we are not proficient in checking the Tzomes ha'Gidin, when one observes on the Tzomes ha'Gidin some indication that it was hit there, even if it is only a swollen area where some blood gathered, we must consider the bird a Tereifah since we do not have the expertise to check and determine otherwise. The Taz and Shach comment in the name of the MAHARSHAL that the Posek who sees such a mark should not rule immediately that the chicken is a Tereifah. Rather, he should slice open the area which is swollen and see if the area has endured some rotting and softening. Only in such a case should he then rule that the bird is a Tereifah.
The Minchas Yitzchak infers from the words of the Maharshal that when no external sign of a wound is observed, the Tzomes ha'Gidin do not have to be examined at all. He agrees with the opinion of the Igros Moshe that as long as a Jew opens the chicken and performs a quick examination to ascertain that nothing looks problematic, he does not have to do any further examining to determine that the bird is not a Tereifah.
The Minchas Yitzchak extends this ruling to a case involving a disease that occurred among chickens that caused their sinews to become cut. An expert examiner could inspect the chicken's lower leg area and determine whether or not the chicken had this disease, and, consequently, had a significant chance of having a cut sinew in the Tzomes ha'Gidin area. RAV MEIR BRANDSDORFER shlit'a (in KENEI BOSEM YD #49) writes that any chicken that was examined and found to have this disease must have its Tzomes ha'Gidin examined. The Minchas Yitzchak agrees with this. However, Rav Brandsdorfer adds that one is forbidden to eat any chicken until the chicken has been examined by an expert to determine that it does not have this disease. Based on his aforementioned statement that only a cursory check of the chicken is necessary, the Minchas Yitzchak argues that one is permitted to eat chickens without first checking for this disease, although one who is stringent to check first acts in the way of a holy person.
Although the Minchas Yitzchak rules that one does not need to check the Tzomes ha'Gidin, he does quote the MEI DA'AS who states that it is preferable to check the Tzomes ha'Gidin, and one who does so will merit that blessing will come upon him. Indeed, today many strict Kashrus organizations give their Hechsher only after the Tzomes ha'Gidin has been routinely checked. This practice was instituted because within the last twenty years, the problem of the Tzomes ha'Gidin having snapped sinews has become widespread. This is due in part to the fact that the chickens are raised to be very meat-heavy on top, causing severe strain on the legs, which often leads to snapped sinews in the Tzomes ha'Gidin. (Y. MONTROSE)
2) A BIRD WITH A DISLOCATED THIGH
QUESTION: The Gemara discusses at length the question of whether a bird with a dislocated thigh ("Shemutas Yerech") is a Tereifah or not. RASHI (DH Shemutas) and TOSFOS (DH Shemutas) agree that this refers to a case in which the ball ("Buka") that attaches the leg bone ("Yerech" or "Atma") to the socket in the hip bone slipped out of the socket, causing the leg to become dislocated. (See RAMBAM (Hilchos Shechitah 10:4) and ME'IRI for other opinions of "Shemutas Yerech.")
Why does the Gemara have any question about the dislocated thigh of a bird? The Gemara earlier (56a) says in the name of Levi that the Tereifos of a bird are the same as the Tereifos of an animal. The Gemara (54b) teaches that when an animal's thigh is dislocated, the animal is a Tereifah. Why, then, should a bird be any different?
(a) TOSFOS (DH Lamah) suggests that those who permit such a bird also permit an animal with similar damage. They disagree with the opinion mentioned in the Gemara earlier (54b) that calls such an animal a Tereifah.
(b) Tosfos answers further that perhaps those who permit such a bird indeed distinguish between birds and animals, and do not accept the opinion of Levi earlier (56a) who compares the Tereifos of the two. (Tosfos is not entirely satisfied with this answer.)
The RAN explains that the logic behind this distinction is that an animal's weight rests on its thigh, while a bird's weight does not rest entirely on its thighs, since it has wings which it uses to support some of its weight.
(c) The RAN mentions two other opinions in the Rishonim that differentiate between the damaged thigh bone which renders an animal a Tereifah and the bone of a bird discussed here. In the Gemara here, the joint (socket) itself was not damaged, but the bird might still be a Tereifah for a different reason. The Gemara here is discussing the knee joint, and not the thigh socket, while the Gemara earlier is discussing the thigh socket (the hip). A knee dislocation makes the animal Tereifah even if no damage occurred to the joint.
Alternatively, the Ran cites the RA'AVAD who suggests that the Gemara here is discussing the hip, while the Gemara earlier is discussing the knee. A hip dislocation makes the animal Tereifah even if no damage occurred to the joint.
3) A BIRD'S RIBCAGE PROTECTS ITS LUNGS
QUESTION: Rav Chanah explains that a bird's ribcage protects the bird's lungs from damage due to a fall or fire. RASHI (DH v'Rov Tzela'os) explains that this is because the "width of the ribs protect [the lung], because they lie not on their width, but on their sharp edges." How does this protect the bird's lungs?
ANSWER: The SICHAS CHULIN (3:425) explains that Rashi means that the ribs of a bird surround the lungs with their width perpendicular to the thoracic cavity (that is, their flat sides face each other, and their pointed edges face toward the inside and outside of the animal). The lungs, therefore, are farther away from the outer surface of the bird, and, therefore, are better insulated from impact and from fire.
4) REBBI SHIMON BEN CHALAFTA'S EXPERIMENT
QUESTION: The Gemara relates that Rebbi Shimon ben Chalafta wanted to see if Shlomo ha'Melech was correct when he stated that ants have no rulers (Mishlei 6:7).
How could Rebbi Shimon ben Chalafta have doubted the words of Shlomo ha'Melech? The Gemara in Bava Basra (75a) says that a person who doubts the statements made by the Torah scholars of the generation is a "scoffer" who deserves to be punished. (TOSFOS DH Eizil)
ANSWER: Rebbi Shimon ben Chalafta certainly trusted Shlomo's statement. He wanted to show others how Shlomo ha'Melech knew that ants have no kings.