Everything that the Almighty created has a purpose. That is especially obvious in connection with the parts of the body.

One of the main differences between a human body and an animal's body is that the former does not have a tail, and the latter (almost without exception) does. When we say "animal," we are including beasts, birds and fishes. Not all tails are of the same kind and size: some are long, some short, some bushy, some thin; but whatever the tail, it is an important part of the animal's anatomy.

Why does an animal need a tail? For what purpose did the Almighty create almost every animal, beast, bird and fish, with a tail?

The answer is that the tail plays an important role, although not in all cases does it serve the same purpose.

Let us take a look at a grazing animal, for example.

Whoever has seen an animal at pasture in the field, has certainly noticed how it keeps on swiping its tail to rid itself of those nuisances, the flies.

Its tail is very suitable for that job: it is long and thin, and at the end of the tail it is very hairy. A horse has a similar tail, and uses it mainly for the same purpose as the cow and other animals in the same category.

Many beasts use their tails for protection. A lion's tail is very powerful. Certain monkeys use their long tail as a 'Fifth leg." They wrap their tail around a branch, and their whole body is suspended from the tail. In this manner their hands (paws) are free to tear off fruit from the trees, and busy themselves with other monkey business.

Especially important, and strong, is the tail of the Kangaroo, the remarkable creature with the pouch that lives in Australia. The kangaroo can sit on its tail, and can protect itself with its fore feet and back-feet at the same time. While supporting itself on its tail, it can kill the largest beast with a kick from its hind feet. The kangaroo also uses its tail to help it jump.

Birds use their feathery tail to fly. Their tail serves as a kind of a rudder in the air. It sometimes serves other purposes, such as, for example, in the case of the woodpecker, which sits on its tail as it pecks large holes in the trees,

The "flying squirrel" has a very bushy tail, which aides her in her jumping from tree to tree.

The beaver uses its tail as a danger signal. He gives the water such a resounding whack with his tail, that its echo can be heard over the whole lake, and it warns the whole beaver colony of danger.

For a fish, the tail is absolutely vital. With the help of its tail, the fish swims in any direction it pleases.

Amongst the reptiles, such as snakes, lizards, etc., there is a lizard that stores fat in its tail, and if ever it is hungry, or when it sleeps ('hibernates") for a long period of time, it lives on the fat stored up in its tail. Often the tail saves its life in a different way: If it is caught by its tail, it can let fall a piece of tail, and escape; later on, the piece grows back.

Man, the chosen one of all creatures, was not given a tail. Man is "intelligent," using his head mainly, the seat of the brain and intellect. That is why a person walks with his head upright, towards heaven.

In many an animal, the head and the tail are on one level; its head is not higher than the other vital parts of its body. Its head, lungs, heart, stomach and tail are almost in one straight line. In a human being, the head is higher, and the lungs lower; the heart lower still, and the stomach and liver even more so.

That shows that, first of all, a person should act sensibly (use his brains); then he is a "speaking creature" (mouth and lungs). The feelings (heart) are on a lower level, because the intellect should govern the feelings; and on the lowest rung is his digestive system (stomach, liver, etc.), where man is closest to an animal. But, even with regard to this part of the body, the intellect and humane feelings should master the baser animal instincts in a person.

Rabbi Isaiah Hurwitz, - the saintly Sheloh, in his famous work Shnei Luchos Habris, remarks that the three vital organs of the body are: the brain, the heart and the liver. The corresponding Hebrew words are Moach (brain), Lev (heart) and Koved (liver), (of which the first letter of each of these words) forms the word Melech - king.

If a person acts in accordance with the importance of his organs in this order, Moach (brain), Lev (heart) and Koved (liver), then he is indeed a "king," the ruler over all creatures.

The Almighty created the human different from other creatures not only internally (by his intellect and feelings), but also externally, in the shape and form of his body.

From the external appearance, one can tell that a person is walking down the road, and not an animal. Therefore, a person was not created with a tail, which is the characteristic of the animal.

Even in the case of an animal, the head goes before the tail, not the opposite; the head has to lead the whole body. In the case of a person, how much more so!

The Hebrew terms for "head" and "tail," "Rosh" and "Zonov," depict "leadership" and "following." Generally speaking, a person should try to be a "Head," an influential person, a leader. His conduct should set an example to be followed by others. At times, however, a person has to allow himself to be led by others, by greater and more intelligent people than himself. It is no credit to be a leader of a company which consists of silly and empty-headed people. Our Sages, of blessed memory, express this idea with the well-known saying, in Pirkei Avos (4:15): "Rather be the tail of lions than the head of foxes."

The "lions" among Jews are the Torah scholars, the true leaders of the Jewish people. We have to allow ourselves to be led by them, thereby coming closer to G‑d and His teachings.