Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

1 Kislev 5759 - November 10, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Home and Family
Preparing For The Future
Taking the Panic Out of Reading

by R' Zvi Zobin

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 in disbelief.

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 continued.

"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."


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