Mr. and Mrs. Druk explained that their son Chaim's reading was very
inaccurate. The initial screening showed that Chaim knew the alef-bais
and vowels well, but when he read a text he had never seen before
-- wow! his parents were correct. Chaim's version of the text seemed
to be very different from the version printed in the book.
"You see!" Mr. Druk commented sadly, "Chaim's reading
is really bad."
Rabbi Reuven leaned back in his chair and smiled at Mr. Druk. "Actually,
Chaim can read perfectly accurately." Mr. Druk raised his eyebrows
Rabbi Reuven ruffled through his copy of selichos and then
turned to Chaim.
"Okay, Chaim, selichos is very hard to read, right?"
Chaim nodded in agreement.
"I have turned to one of the most difficult selichos in
the whole sefer."
Chaim cringed in fear.
"Now," smiled Rabbi Reuven, "I am going to ask you to
read it, but in the following way. First look at the word. Take as
long as you like to look at it. Then, think in your mind how you are
going to say it. Then, when you are ready, say the word as a whole
unit. When you were little, you had to say each word in syllables
-- Ash ray yosh vei vay se cho -- but now you need to
read like an adult, in whole words. Ashray yoshvay vaysecho.
Do you understand?"
Chaim nodded cautiously.
Rabbi Reuven continued, "When you read, you should be completely
relaxed. Do not start to say a word until you know how to finish it.
Take your time. Remember, you are the boss. If you are not ready to
say a word, don't say it. Take your time. I am going to time you,
but ignore it. I am timing it for my purpose, not to make you go faster."
Slowly, Chaim began to read.
Rabbi Reuven watched Mr. Druk's face as Chaim began to read perfectly.
Slowly, with perfect enunciation, Chaim worked his way through the
entire text. At the end, Rabbi Reuven checked his watch. "It took
you 7 minutes and 53 seconds to read that text, but you read it without
a single mistake. Am I right, Mr. Druk?"
Mr. Druk nodded in agreement. He looked a little bemused, still in
shock from hearing Chaim read such a difficult text with such precision.
Rabbi Reuven turned back to Chaim. "Okay, Chaim. Now can you please
read it once again, but this time, please be even more relaxed. Remember,
take your time and do not even begin to say a word until you know
how to say the entire word as a single unit."
Once again, Chaim read the whole text perfectly, but this time it
took him only five minutes and 20 seconds.
"Wow, you knocked two and a half minutes off your previous time!
How did you manage to do that?" Rabbi Reuven asked Chaim. "I
didn't ask you to read faster. On the contrary, I asked you to relax
even more! Can you explain how you read so much faster?"
Chaim thought for a moment.
"Well, I had already read it once before, so I was a bit familiar
with the words."
Rabbi Reuven turned to Mr. and Mrs. Druk. "You see? I did not
ask Chaim to memorize the words. All I did was ask him to be completely
relaxed, stay in control and say each word as a single unit. Now,
automatically he is beginning to memorize some of the hardest words
-- and he is reading perfectly!"
Rabbi Reuven paused for a moment to let his words sink in, then he
"No, I am not a miracle worker. When I checked Chaim's knowledge
of the letters and vowels, I saw that he knew them perfectly. But
when he read the text, he went into a panic. So I knew that all he
had to do was just learn how to be in control and relax and then he
would be able to read perfectly."
"So, Chaim," Rabbi Reuven smiled, "from now on, when you
read, read in the following way: Look, Think, and when you are ready,
Say the word as a whole unit. Stay in control and be relaxed when
you read and then, not only will you begin to enjoy and understand
what you read but you will also begin to remember the words so that
when you meet each word again, you will recognize it and read it faster."