I took a field trip to The High Museum of Art on Tuesday morning to experience the Yoyai Kusama “Infinity Mirror Rooms” exhibit. Written on the wall was the following instruction: look for the recurring motif of peering eyes, awakened to the wonders of time and space: reminders that we are not alone in the universe but, instead, are surrounded by memories, souls, and spirits.” The experience of walking through these seven rooms reminded me of a chassidic lesson taught by Rabbi Simcha Bunam who instructed his students to write out two scrolls and put one in each pocket. On the first, the rabbi instructed them to write, “I am but dust and ashes,” and on the second he instructed his students to write, “The world was created for me.”
Kusama’s Infinity Mirror Rooms reflect Rabbi Simcha Bunam’s instruction. On the one hand (or in one pocket), we hold that we are just a speck in the universe. When I walked into Kusama’s rooms I was surrounded and embraced by specks of light or an endless array of figures refracting all around me, extending into infinity. On the other hand (and in the other pocket), we contain a spark of the divine, we represent the greatness of creation. In Kusama’s rooms, I also felt larger than life, like I was on top of the world, gazing out into creation.
At Thanksgiving, we have enough room at our table for both Rabbi Simcha Bunam and Yoyai Kusama. This is the beauty of American Jewish life. We weave together a tablecloth of experiences that combine our Jewish, American, and global threads. In my family, we have a tradition of going around the table before we eat to say what we are thankful for. Maybe you do the same. This year I am grateful for the moments of connection and relationship with each of you that have brought together sparks of the divine. May we always see ourselves as a unique and important piece in Creation. When we look in the mirror, may we be proud of the reflection that shines back. May we always remember the notes in our pockets which read, “I am but dust and ashes” and “the world was created for me.”