Project Genesis

Gid HaNasheh - The Sciatic Nerve and Chickens

Question: I understand it is not permissable for jews to eat the area around the hip of a chicken, is this true and why?

Answer: You are on the right track but not exactly right. The law of “*Gid Ha’nashe”*, commonly known as the inner sinew or sciatic nerve is based on the Biblical encounter between our forefather Jacob and a mysterious man/angel whose actual identity is ambiguous and of much discussion (Genesis 32:25-33). As Jacob is preparing for a fateful meeting with his estranged brother, Esau, this creature intercepts Jacob and they “wrestle”. When this man/angel saw that Jacob had the upper hand he struck him on the socket of his hip in order to get away.

This passage is full of meaning, especially in a metaphorical sense, but as not to digress, I will simply point out that the end of the passage states: “Therefore the Children of Israel are not to eat the displaced sinew on the hip-socket to this day…” (Gen 32:33). This law is codified in the “Shulchan Aruch”, the Jewish book of Laws (Y.D. 65:5). It is applicable to all livestock but, for technical reasons, chicken is not included in this law as it does not have a proper hip socket. I hope I have satisfactorily answered your question.

R’ Daniel Fleksher

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