Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Tzav: The definition of Shok

{Update: Welcome, visitors from Imamother. Why not take a look around while you are here? One thing you might be interested in is my series analyzing Oz VeHadar Levushah.}

: Reading or writing a blogpost is no substitute for reading through all the relevant halachic literature on the subject or consulting your local Orthodox rabbi. This is most certainly not intended as halacha lemaaseh. And there are other sources I am not mentioning. And I have not given this enough thought, and these are off the cuff reactions.

In parshas Tzav, upon {Vayikra 7:32}
לב וְאֵת שׁוֹק הַיָּמִין, תִּתְּנוּ תְרוּמָה לַכֹּהֵן, מִזִּבְחֵי, שַׁלְמֵיכֶם. 32 And the right thigh shall ye give unto the priest for a heave-offering out of your sacrifices of peace-offerings.
Rashi writes:
the right thigh refers to [the part of the animal’s hind leg extending] from the אַרְכּוּבָה [knee-joint, the bone and the flesh of which are usually] sold together with the head, up till the middle joint [of the upper leg] which is called "sovech shel regel." [The animal’s leg has three sections to it; thus, the שׁוֹק is the middle of those three sections.] [Chul. 134b]
His basis, as noted, is Chullin 134b. For what follows, we will need to refer to a cow skeleton. I got the following image from another website. It is of a cow skeleton, mounted on a wooden platform. For a limited time, you can purchase it from them for only $2100. The bones are marked for identification, so I guess it is good for people studying bovine anatomy. I am not sure how many parshablog readers will take them up on the offer, though. You can also click on the picture they feature on their website, to get to this full screen image of the same.

Note how both the front and the hind legs have three separate sections.

Rashi refers to one opinion in a dispute in a Mishna in Chullin.

איזהו הזרוע מן הפרק של ארכובה עד כף של יד והוא של נזיר וכנגדו ברגל שוק
ר' יהודה אומר שוק מן הפרק של ארכובה עד סובך של רגל
אי זהו לחי מן הפרק של לחי עד פיקה של גרגרת
Based on the definitions provided by Rashi on the daf, the Chachamim hold that the zeroa is the uppermost of the three bones -- from the kaf shel yad -- which is the shoulder -- until the first joint. And they hold that this definition of zeroa is specifically on the front legs. Meanwhile, the same, uppermost section on the hind legs is called the shok. Meanwhile, Rabbi Yehuda argues, and maintains that the shok is really from that top joint (knee) until the lower joint. Thus, Rabbi Yehuda holds the shok is the middle of the three bones.

How is it possible to have such a dispute about the definition of a well-known part of a creature's anatomy (and at least a person's anatomy)? Chazal were familiar with the term shok. Rav Chisda was able to say elsewhere that shok beIsha erva, and his assumption was that any listener would be able to comprehend what it means. It was a Hebrew word that was used. Similarly, in modern Hebrew, it has a standard definition, as calf, though meanings of words change over time.

So what gives? Was there a dispute among the Tannaim of the definition of this basic term by humans, such that they had difficulty defining it in terms of cows? And would Rav Chisda's statement, with a Scriptural source defining shok as erva, would take different meanings depending on whether you held like the Tanna Kamma or Rabbi Yehuda?

I don't think this is the case.

Rather, I am of the opinion that there was a known definition to shok, such that they thought it really should mean thigh (just like yarech, and this is the standard Biblical usage). But now there was a problem. In terms of cows, the Torah and halacha refer to two separate items. There is the zeroa and there is the shok. And obviously the two terms cannot refer to the same thing. And yet, there would appear to be only one thigh! This is the problem which faced both the Tanna Kamma and Rabbi Yehuda.

The two Tannaitic opinions took two separate approaches to resolve this issue. The Tanna Kamma's approach is as follows:

A person has two legs and two arms. The zeroa refers to the arm (perhaps upper arm) of a person, while the shok refers to a thigh. Therefore, image the cow standing upright on its hind legs. Thus, the zeroa is on the front legs, which we would think of as a thigh only because the cow stands on all fours.

Rabbi Yehuda's approach is that it is speaking of two parts of the same limb. Still, it presumably refers to a thigh. And so it is not the lowest of the three sections, but rather the portion above a joint. Since the top portion was already grabbed, in context it must refer to a lower part, which has a type of joint under it.

Similarly, in Avodah Zara 25a, reference is made to I Shmuel 9:24:
כד וַיָּרֶם הַטַּבָּח אֶת-הַשּׁוֹק וְהֶעָלֶיהָ וַיָּשֶׂם לִפְנֵי שָׁאוּל, וַיֹּאמֶר הִנֵּה הַנִּשְׁאָר שִׂים-לְפָנֶיךָ אֱכֹל--כִּי לַמּוֹעֵד שָׁמוּר-לְךָ לֵאמֹר, הָעָם קָרָאתִי; וַיֹּאכַל שָׁאוּל עִם-שְׁמוּאֵל, בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא. 24 And the cook took up the thigh, and that which was upon it, and set it before Saul. And [Samuel] said: 'Behold that which hath been reserved! set it before thee and eat; because unto the appointed time hath it been kept for thee, for I said: I have invited the people.' So Saul did eat with Samuel that day.
The gemara:
וישם לפני שאול מאי והעליה ר' יוחנן אומר שוק ואליה מאי והעליה דמסמכא שוק לאליה ורבי אלעזר אומר שוק וחזה מאי והעליה דמחית לה לחזה עילויה דשוק כי בעי אנופי ומנפי ליה ורבי שמואל בר נחמני אמר שוק ושופי מאי והעליה שופי עילויה דשוק קאי
Thus shok is assumed to be the thigh, and that which is upon it is either the tail which is upon it, the breast which was placed upon it, or according to Rabbi Shmuel bar Nachmeni, the cap of the hip-bone.

It certainly seems that they understood Biblical usage, at least by cows, to mean thigh.

In terms of humans, there seems an explicit Mishna in Ohalot 1:8 that the shok is the calf, rather than the thigh.

מאתיים ושמונה וארבעים אברים באדם, שלושים בפיסת הרגל, שישה בכל אצבע, עשרה בקורסל, שניים בשוק, חמישה בארכובה, אחד בירך, ושלושה בקטלית, ואחת עשרה צלעות, שלושים בפיסת היד, שישה בכל אצבע, שניים בקנה, שניים במרפק, אחד בזרוע, וארבעה בכתף. מאה ואחד מזה, ומאה ואחד מזה. ושמונה עשר חוליות בשזרה, תשעה בראש, שמונה בצוואר, שישה במפתח של לב, וחמישה בנקביו. וכל אחד ואחד, מטמא במגע ובמשא ובאוהל. אימתיי, בזמן שיש עליהן בשר כראוי; אבל אם אין עליהן בשר כראוי--מטמאין במגע ובמשא, ואין מטמאין באוהל

The phrase שניים בשוק presumably refer to the tibia and fibula below the knee. And אחד בירך presumably refers to the femur. And the Mishna works up the body, from the shok to the knee to the yarech.

Of course, this could perhaps only mean this in context. Think of the word regel. Regel can mean leg or foot. In general, when we have a general word, it could mean the whole, or a part, or specific parts at different times. Perhaps once yarech was going to be used, and that is used specifically, it was clear what shok was to mean. But in other uses it might mean thigh. But we would have to inspect these cases one by one.

In Yeshaya 47:2, which is Rav Chisda's prooftext in Berachot daf 24 that shok beIsha erva:

א רְדִי וּשְׁבִי עַל-עָפָר, בְּתוּלַת בַּת-בָּבֶל--שְׁבִי-לָאָרֶץ אֵין-כִּסֵּא, בַּת-כַּשְׂדִּים: כִּי לֹא תוֹסִיפִי יִקְרְאוּ-לָךְ, רַכָּה וַעֲנֻגָּה. 1 Come down, and sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon, sit on the ground without a throne, O daughter of the Chaldeans; for thou shalt no more be called tender and delicate.
ב קְחִי רֵחַיִם, וְטַחֲנִי קָמַח; גַּלִּי צַמָּתֵךְ חֶשְׂפִּי-שֹׁבֶל גַּלִּי-שׁוֹק, עִבְרִי נְהָרוֹת. 2 Take the millstones, and grind meal; remove thy veil, strip off the train, uncover the leg, pass through the rivers.
ג תִּגָּל, עֶרְוָתֵךְ--גַּם תֵּרָאֶה, חֶרְפָּתֵךְ; נָקָם אֶקָּח, וְלֹא אֶפְגַּע אָדָם. {פ} 3 Thy nakedness shall be uncovered, yea, thy shame shall be seen; I will take vengeance, and will let no man intercede. {P}
In this translation, at least (and in the translation given by Soncino), it refers to the whole leg, not just the shin. Rabbi Yehuda Henkin writes:
Note that in verse 2 all the verbs are in the imperative: “kehi” (take), “hespi” (expose), and “gali” (reveal); while verse 3 is in the passive future tense: “tigal” (will be revealed) and “tiraeh” (will be visible). I think the inference is clear: if she uncovers her shok her erva will then be revealed, even unintentionally. Shok and actual erva are adjacent to each other, and uncovering one will result in uncovering the other. This may be the meaning of R. Avraham Alshvili and Shita Mekubbetset in Berakhot 24a who wrote, “although occasionally [shok] is revealed, it has the status of a covered area of the body because it leads to [uncovering the actual] erva.”

It also supports the ruling that shok with regard to erva refers to a woman’s upper leg, above 32a and not below the knee, 33 for the lower leg is not adjacent to erva and uncovering it will not result in uncovering oto makom. Isaiah’s depiction of a woman exposing her shok in order to cross rivers (neharot) 34 is further indication that shok is above the knee; were it below the knee and she were clothed down to her ankles to cover it, she would have to raise her skirts to cross even a puddle. The only reference in Scripture to a woman’s shok, then, appears to refer to her upper leg, as opposed to talmudic usage where it invariably connotes an area below the knee.
I am not sure that I am persuaded by the shift from imperative to passive. The argument from the river imagery is more convincing to me.

I agree that there is a likely shift between Biblical and Talmudic usage of the term. But did Rav Chisda intend Biblical or Talmudic usage of the term. Is he making a derasha based on proximity, or is he making a careful reading of the verse in Yeshaya in context?

(In terms of regel, it is interesting how in Yevamot 103 Chazal restrict and redefine Biblical usage of regel so that it cannot mean thigh, because the verse in Devarim 35 uses the term regel.)

Even if it does mean calf here, that does not mean that Rav Chisda's statement is lehalacha, or might be limited in its definition for other reasons, as Rav Henkin discusses in his article. And here is not the place to elaborate.


Looking Forward said...

i would mention that i am increasinbly comptemplating that shok and yerech do not refer to the thigh and calf, but to the HIP and calf, as it is used in several cabalistic sources and as the references to having a sword on your thigh. . .

(think patach eliyahu and pezukei d'zimra)

Shoker said...

If Rishonim understood R Chisda meant Shok in the Biblical sense (thigh), wouldn't at least one Rishon have said "ודע that this Shok is different from all other Shoks" or something along those lines?

I note also that if R Chisda mean Shok in the Rabbinic sense (calf), then you can't really say it's a drasha gemura. Which is fine, especially for those like R Willig who reject that the Shok is "objective ervah".


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