Memory and writing

Torah she ba'al peh was intended to be passed down orally. It was only due to the fear of it being forgotten that it was committed to writing, first only the Mishna and then the Gemara, and then many sifrei halacha that continue to multiply.  

Maria Konnikova looks at the Zeigarnik effect in a blog written for Scientific American,  She explains as the follows:
Psychologist Arie Kruglanski calls this a Need for Closure, a desire of our minds to end states of uncertainty and resolve unfinished business. This need motivates us to work harder, to work better, and to work to completion. It adds impetus to minds that may otherwise be too busy or oversaturated to bother with the details. 
That wold fit in with the Chazal "ayn simcha kehataras sfekos" There is no happiness like the resolution of uncertainty. The human mind longs for certainty, and the lack of it prevents it from rest, contentment. But that is also what feeds the thrill of the chase and the persistence to acquire the answer. That is what Chazal observe in  Gittin 43a: "No one truly achieves Torah knowledge without first experiencing error. 

Konnikova continues with thoughts about the loss that can result from writing down that which had been memorized before:

When we no longer have the impetus to remember, when we are certain that what we know has been put into action—be it in the form of a completed order or a book that we know we’ll be able to reference at any future point—why take up precious mental real estate that can be put to use on other tasks that we can’t be so sure of completing or knowing how to complete should that need arise?

Follow me on Twitter @AriellaBrown and circle me at Google+ For wedding tips and insight, as well as recipes and practical advice, visit


Popular Posts