21 Mar

by Haley Tamir


As Passover approaches, we are met with a variety of customs, primarily concerning our food and drink. The question, or the message sought out at LABA’s “Drunk” event was “the heaven and hells of intoxication in ancient Jewish tradition”.

Various speakers including Ruby Namdar and Basmat Hazan Arnoff, read aloud selected midrashic texts that seek to distinguish between the two kinds of wine: the wine that brings knowledge and “is the secret of the world to come”, and the wine that “intoxicates, and brings harm to the world, and does not inspire knowledge” (Midrash Ohr Hadash). As we heard several interesting stories and interpretations of our sages’ wisdom on the topic, a variety of wines were being served. This distinction between the “two wines” is one not often made as we welcome this powerful substance into our lives, and the topic was quite relevant as we approach a holiday that not only suggests, but orders us to partake in the joyful experience that is wine.

LABA Cups 2-3The evening vacillated from light enjoyment of the performance art to deep contemplation and discussion of the fine line between enjoying our lives through wine and abusing it to the point of fruitless intoxication. Events such as these serve well to inspire and entertain those involved in the visual arts. There are no long term commitments in attending events such as these, and they serve well to inspire the visual artist community through various mediums.

Events such as these serve well to inspire and entertain those involved in the visual arts.

“The evening was an interesting mix of drink and performance art, and Jewish analysis of the context of wine and its effect on us” said David Deblinger, one of the featured performers. Between the discussions, the wine, and the slideshow art used to depict the themes being discussed, the event seemed to appeal to all senses, inspiring creativity within the audience and the performers providing it; “We feed off the creative energy of the group” said artist Ruby Namdar of the dual inspiration.

The message many walked away with was the notion of balance found in the pleasures of wine, and that anything used in excess can be harmful to its user. “The text transcends the question,” said Namdar, “the midrash allows me to remain human; to be a good human, but human nonetheless”.

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