Question:

Why do Jews consider certain animals, such as pigs, to be unclean and therefore not edible? I am under the impression that G‑d made everything, including pigs and other non-cloven-hoofed animals. Whatever G‑d made cannot be unclean, or perverted. Man has made certain things unclean and perverted, but I don't see how this can apply to non-cloven-hoofed animals.

Response:

You are entirely correct; G‑d created everything in the world with a purpose. After all, if it had no use, why would He bother bringing it into existence? The question is just what that purpose is.

Some edible things have a very clear purpose: Eat the item with the intention to use its energy to serve G‑d. Other things, G‑d tells us in the Bible, have another purpose, and that is that we do not eat them.

This does not mean that we have no use for anything derived from a non-kosher animal—just that they are not to be eaten by a Jew. So you can use pigskin to bind your books and you can feed unkosher meat to your pet1. But a Jew who eats non-kosher food is just not helping that piece of food serve its divine purpose. After all, it was G‑d Himself who commanded the Jews not to eat it.

Please let me know if this helps,

Yours truly,

Rabbi Menachem Posner