By Uriel Sella
One of the basic human needs is eating and drinking. Eating and drinking is also one of the pleasures that human-beings enjoy. Many religions also have their own dietary laws that somewhat restrict what their members can or cannot eat. For people who are not religious these laws can seem strange and restricting but for religious people these laws can, introduce a whole different understanding of food and its purpose. In fact, there is reason to believe that the ability of religious people to delay gratification in the form of some foods or to even abstain from eating some foods altogether results in people who have a higher ability to wait before fulfilling needs , even those that may seem to others to be the most basic.
Although there are obviously many more religions that have dietary laws we have chosen to focus on the three main monotheistic religions of Judaism, Islam and Christianity to present a glimpse of the world of food form a religious perspective. Obviously, we are also not presenting an extensive study of each religion but are rather giving readers a superficial introduction to the subject matter.
- The dietary laws in Judaism are called Kashrut and it therefore follows that foods that deemed permissible by Judaism are called Kosher, which is derived from the same root as the word Kashrut.
- The laws pertaining to food were given to the Jewish people at the Revelation at Sinai by G-d in his written Torah and the oral Torah expands on these laws.
- Food is enjoyed by Jewish people- it is believed that it is G-d's desire that His people enjoy from all the materialism He placed in this world but even more so elevate it- by blessing over all food both before and after consuming it.
- There are very specific laws concerning how animals need to be slaughtered in order for them to be considered Kosher.
- Some of the forbidden foods according to Judaism are pork, shellfish and mixtures of milk and meat.
- There are also fast days in Judaism on which no food or drink is consumed whatsoever.
- Every Jewish holiday has symbolic foods that are associated with it and specially prepared for it.
- Followers of Islam believe that moderation is a central tenet in life and food and drink are no exception.
- Muslims believe that when done properly, eating and drinking can be done in honor of G-d.
- The word Halal is used to refer to food that is permitted and is also used in other areas of life to refer to things that are permitted according to Islam.
- Any forbidden foods according to Islam are called Haram.
- Forbidden foods include pork, alcohol and foods containing emulsifiers that are made from animal fats.
- If bread products contain yeast they may be considered Haram due to the possible traces of alcohol in such foods.
- Muslims also have days on which they fast with the month of Ramadan being the most intense- Ramadan is a full month in which Muslims fast by day and break their fast every evening.
- There are different sects in Christianity such as Roman Catholicism, Roman Orthodox and Protestantism. Each of these sects has different rules regarding food.
- The Catholic and Orthodox sects have a number of fast days with some of their followers fasting on Fridays or simply avoiding meat on Fridays that fall during Lent or on Good Friday.
- Protestants generally observe Christmas and Easter as festivals and don’t observe them as ritualized fasts.
- Communion is celebrated by a large number of Christians and the ceremony includes eating bread and wine.
- There are some Christians who will not drink alcohol.
- Some Christians (such as the Mormons and Seventh Day Adventists) don't drink alcohol or caffeine. In addition, many Seventh Day Adventists will also not eat meat or dairy products.
- Fasting is often seen, in Christianity, as a way to improve one's self-discipline by focusing on prayer and spiritual growth.
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About the Author
Uriel Sella is one of the owners at Ajudaica.com, a well known Jewish web-store. Read more about religion and other interesting facts at our blog!
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