In Judaism, what significance is assigned to food?

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Food is a major part of Jewish culture, and is related to spirituality through custom and tradition. Most Jewish holidays are centered around shared meals, with special blessings to indicate that the food is being eaten to honor that holiday. Food must be certified under specific laws, called Kashrut, to be eaten by Orthodox Jewish people; this means that the food needs to be made of acceptable ingredients, and also prepared according to proper procedures. These procedures give the food a spiritual significance as well; the food is considered acceptable for consumption, setting the eating person apart from those who eat indiscriminately. Although there is no specific religious reason for Kashrut laws, they have been interpreted as being for health reasons; Kashrut requires very clean and sanitary conditions, and strict rules about mixing certain kinds of foods. Overall, the preparation and consumption of Kosher foods under proper conditions, and with appropriate blessings, is considered a basic requirement for those who closely follow the Jewish faith.

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