Anonymous from New York wrote:
I can think of good reasons why we keep kosher. (First and foremost because G-d said to, and also for reasons of purity and separation), but I have no idea how to explain to a 10 year old public school student, whom I tutor, why G-d created both kosher and nonkosher animals. Please help! Thank you!!
I think that you should give him/her a prize! The Sages of the Talmud ask the same question! They answer that every animal has a task to perform in the world, and there's something we can learn from them.
For example, say our Sages, we can learn modesty from a cat, and honesty and industriousness from an ant. Cats are basically shy animals and are discreet about taking care of their personal needs. Ants are hard-working, and they are "honest" in that they don't steal from each other.
King David tried to fathom the meaning behind each animal and he succeeded -- with two exceptions! One was the spider and the other was the wasp. So, G-d showed King David very clearly the need for those two animals as well:
When running for his life from King saul, David hid in a cave. King Saul and his soldiers were searching everywhere. G-d sent a spider to spin a web over the opening of the cave in which David was hiding. When the soldiers came to his cave and saw it was covered with a spider's web, they moved straight past, it not imagining that the web was freshly made!
On another occasion David entered secretly into King Saul's military camp at night. King Saul's general, Avner, turned over in his sleep and, unknowingly, trapped David with his legs. A wasp came and stung Avner, causing him to open his legs, allowing David to escape!
Another answer is that G-d made unkosher animals in order to reward us for following the commandment not to eat them.
- Eiruvin 100b
- Otzar Midrashim 47
- Ma'akot 23b