The jewish understanding is very important for us today. Why?
Not only is the rabbinic scholarliness proverbial and texts have always been discussed, but the jewish scholarship goes back to the 1st century A.D. Rabbinic judaism became after destruction of temple 70. AD mainstream jewish faith and overtook with 100% certainty the theology, rite and interpretation of those who were contemporaries of the jewish Apostels and Jesus.
After 70 A.D. and the destructio of the temple Jochanan ben Zakai founded the first rabbinic academy in Javne. the basis for his school was the pharasaic Halacha, a destintive pharasaic interpration of the law that put the emphasis on the doing. Over the time rabbinic judaism shaped jewish rite and theology. The apostels of Jesus and he himself were Jews. Apostel Paul an educated "academic" pharisee too. (I dont know one J.W. who was a Jew, a Jew is only someone who is actually circumsised, none else)
The Apostolic decree which stated "abstain from blood" was decided and pronounced for non-jewish christians out of deference for the jews in the congregation after the Jerusalem concile were a "rabbinic"-kind of discussion about how the laws could have been applied for this special situation happened. Arguments included tradition, exemptions as well as pharasian and sadducian standpoints.
With 100% certainty, the Jew-Apostels of Jesus interpreted the Law not much different from an orthodox Jew from today. Paul was certainly very liberal because he represented the same way which later should become the rabbinic judaism.
At the apostolic concile the exemptions were with certainty always in the back of their mind, a matter that was taken for granted.
This would mean that the principle which says that "SAVING LIFE" overrides most other laws was already known, taught and accepted by the antique Jews and by the Jewish Apostels who held the first apostolic concile as well.
What would then the apostels have believed about exemptions from dietary laws?
They would have also certainly remembered the jewish "rabbi" Jesus, how he had handled exemptions of laws, like that about necessary work on sabbath.
Exemptions from dietary laws are necessary because the purpose and goal of the law is, that one would live by means of it.
You must keep my statutes and my judicial decisions; anyone who does so will live by means of them.+ I am Jehovah.