2

This question is a follow-up to "Different-counts-of-the-248-organs-".

As we see from the Mishnah in Ohalot 1,8, only the bones are counted as organs, namely a bone that has a sinew and some flesh.

The Gemmorah in Bekhorot 45a states that women have 252 organs (there are different opinions, however, based on different Torah verses that range from 251-253):

מעשה בתלמידיו של ר' ישמעאל ... שבדקו ומצאו בה מאתים וחמשים ושנים:
אמר להם שמא באשה בדקתם
שהוסיף לה הכתוב שני צירים ושני דלתות

With regard to the number of limbs or bones in the human body, Rabbi Yehuda says that Shmuel says: There was an incident involving the students of Rabbi Yishmael, who boiled the corpse of a prostitute who was sentenced by the king to death by burning, in order to separate her flesh from her bones. They examined and found she had 252 organs. They were puzzled by their finding, as the Sages say that the human body has only 248 limbs. Shmuel said to them: Perhaps you examined the corpse of a woman, as the verse added to her two hinges and two doors, for a total of 252 organs.

(As the whole discussion is within the topic of impurity I imply that the count in Bekhorot applies to the bones also as in Ohalot.)

I couldn't find any empirical support for this claim, as anatomically, the two skeletons are identical (with 206 bones, not 248-252). Also, this seems to be a very easy anatomical test - counting bones - there shouldn't be any dispute at all.

Interestingly, if women had 4 additional bones, R"I's students could easily identify the female skeleton just by those 4 bones (2 axles and 2 doors?), not by the total number of 252! (thanks to DonielF)

So what is going on here with counting the female skeleton differently?

  • The skeletons aren’t actually identical. They’re different enough that if an archaeologist comes across a complete human skeleton he can tell if it was a man or a woman just by looking at it. Most of the difference comes in proportions between different parts of the body, but the Gemara’s statement that women have extra bones along the birthing canal I believe is indeed accurate. – DonielF Aug 26 '18 at 15:25
  • @DonielF What is the name of the extra bone women have in the birth canal? There's no need for us to speculate. If it exists it has a name. Maybe a Wikipedia page? A picture? – Double AA Dec 6 '19 at 14:46
  • @DonielF Nope. – Alaychem Remember Monica Jan 7 at 9:56
0

I'm not going to argue with non-believers who aren't looking for answers.

Those who are looking for answers should see the Encyclopedia Talmudis and Dr. Katzelson's book about Gemorah and medical science on this topic.

Two points however are indisputable

(1)there are differences between male and female skeletons particularly in the pelvic area

(2)People have different amounts of bones at different stages of life. As they get older bones fuse and diminish.

This question only starts after you are clear as to which stage of life the Mishna considers a bone to be a separate bone for halachic purposes. (I for one do not know)

|improve this answer|||||
  • 1
    Are there differences in number or just in shape in the pelvic area? (Point 2 is correct of course, that the number changes over time, but that wasn't the main point of the question.) – Double AA Dec 6 '19 at 14:47
  • 1
    Without a summary of "Encyclopedia Talmudis and Dr. Katzelson's book" I don't see how this answers the question. – Double AA Dec 6 '19 at 14:56
  • Please move the two points to a comment, this does not address the question on the count of bones. See the related question, that the Mishnah defines a אבר as a BONE with flesh. – Al Berko Dec 7 '19 at 18:20
  • 1
    I think the above answer definitely answers the question. Upvote. – Turk Hill Dec 8 '19 at 1:37
-4

The "bones" are actually calcium deposits that build up on the tympanic bones during pregnancy. This is why mothers have such good hearing.

|improve this answer|||||

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .