Friday, April 28, 2006

So That's the Origin of the Pin Test

I heard about the pin test years ago from Rabbi Aryeh Strikovsky in Jerusalem.

It's this test whereby you stick a pin in any volume of Talmud, to any depth you like, and tell the person you are testing the page number. Judging from where the pin is located on the first page of that tractate, he has to tell you which word the pin has marked on the corresponding page.

Turns out it was a psychological test.

Whereas I always figured that this was the sort of thing little Lithuanian geniuses at Ponevezh Yeshivah, or the like, did to amuse themselves at the dead of winter at night, after they finished rolling naked in the snow, as a tikkun (spiritual fix) for their souls, (a practice known in Hebrew as "gilgulei sheleg") at least until their teeth had stopped chattering enough to fall back to sleep.

I'm fairly sure Rabbi Strikovsky could do the pin test, even though, at least according to Joshua Foer at Slate, no such thing as a photographic memory exists.

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