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Taylor Swift fans have amnesia. So did Jews after Sinai.

Swifties can learn how to process their memory loss by turning to the Talmud

In the aftermath of the Eras tour, as Taylor Swift’s latest concert series is called, some fans have been reporting amnesia, unable to recall the performance they just left. On Reddit, discussions abound about the dreamlike, patchy quality attendees’ memories have taken on.

“It’s so trippy! I was an absolute emotional mess cause I was so excited,” wrote one user in the Taylor Swift subreddit. “It just feels like I blacked out for a whole day lol and now I’m just living life?? With no memories of the highlight of my year??”

Many attendees recount watching videos of the concert they attended and being surprised to see major details, costume and choreography choices — how could they have missed the light-up bikes that appeared onstage during one song? 

“I have been so disappointed that I am feeling like this. Looked forward to it forever and like barely remember any details,” reads one typical comment.

Concert amnesia is not limited to TSwift — or even to concerts. One Reddit user compared her inability to remember the performance to her wedding, which she said was so overwhelming she couldn’t remember anything about it. Psychologists say heightened emotional experiences, whether positive or negative, often cause similar memory issues.

Given that Swifties, as the pop star’s fans are known, have an almost religious devotion to Swift — in fact, that seems to be part of why they’re forgetting everything — it seems fitting that there’s a religious parable for the phenomenon too.

In the Talmud, rabbis discuss how after Moses’ death, Joshua forgot a large portion of the Jewish laws Moses had explained to him, and the halacha was lost to the Jewish people. (As usual, the Talmudic rabbis can’t agree as to how many — some say it was several hundred halachot, others say several thousand.)

The story doesn’t focus on the cause of the memory loss, however, but on the aftermath. Over and over, the Jewish people beg their leaders to appeal to heaven, or to a prophet, to regain the lost pieces of knowledge, but over and over they refuse. The Torah was given on Mount Sinai, they explain, but now it is in the hands of the people — there will be no new knowledge from God, and answers can only come from hard work and study.

If you think about it, this story is the Talmud explaining its own existence. After all, the Jewish text is a canonized set of arguments between rabbis about the existing text, attempting to glean understanding they can apply to their own lives, and those of their followers. They don’t turn to God to answer the question for them, but instead debate it among themselves. And, over time, this practice became central to Jewish practice, a major form of engagement and the development of tradition over centuries.

It’s unlikely that most Swifties will turn to the Talmud to process their amnesia. (Though after outcry from Orthodox fans in the fall of 2022, the singer did add new, non-Shabbat tour dates — so some fans might be fluent in Jewish texts.) But if they did, perhaps they would see parallels in their own community. 

Swifties are avid followers of the singer and spend their time deeply analyzing her lyrics for Easter eggs and secret meanings — it’s not unlike exegesis, really. An entire community built itself around its shared theories and analyses. Like the Jews of the Talmud, most Swifties can’t just walk up to the pop star and ask their questions. They have to figure it out. And that’s what holds their community together.

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