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I didn't have the opportunity growing up to learn Hebrew. My goal is to be able to sight-read the Hebrew in Torah. I have taken several classes in grammer and syntax, and my vocab is moderate. What is the best way to take what I've learned and actually learn to sight-read? Any approach will involve much practice and devotion, obviously. That said, what is the best approach?

I'm also interested to know how many out there can actually do this. Setting aside the learning one does specific to their bar mitzvah portion, how does one become a successful today reader?

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Welcome to Mi Yodeya. When you say "sight-read", do you mean reading the unpointed text with comprehension, or something else? (And are you including trope as part of this? That is, when you say "read torah" do you mean leining, or do you mean sitting down with the text and understanding it but not doing a public reading?) –  Monica Cellio Jan 19 at 2:54
By sight-read I mean reading the Torah in personal reading with pointed text and being able to understand. Not for congregational canting. –  noobie1 Jan 19 at 3:23
Sign up for this site: area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/36772/… –  McGafter Jan 20 at 9:29

2 Answers 2

Reading Hebrew isn't any different than reading English. It's just a different language. If you have taken classes in grammar and you have a moderate vocabulary, you should already be able to start. Obviously you will have to add to your vocabulary over time, but you can ask someone or use a dictionary when you come to a word you don't know.

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Reading Hebrew is slightly different than reading English. The "science" of grammar has a way of measuring the depth of languages. See here en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orthographic_depth (as much as this article groups English and Hebrew together in terms of their depth, when I was a master's student we were taught that Hebrew is deeper). This doesn't affect the answer, but is important to know so you don't get discouraged! –  YeZ Jan 19 at 0:59
I disagree entirely Daniel. If it were that easy I'd already be doing it after 2 years of grammar courses. –  noobie1 Jan 19 at 3:31
@noobie1 Perhaps I don't understand what you are asking. If you know grammar and you know vocabulary, then you can read. The more you practice, the more your vocabulary will grow. But as far as reading goes, there isn't anything to learn besides grammar and vocabulary. If you have indeed taken two years of grammar classes and your vocabulary is moderate, that should be enough to start reading. Perhaps you could clarify what exactly you are having difficulty with? Is it figuring out what tense a word is in? What the shoresh of a word means? Something else? –  Daniel Jan 21 at 20:37
@YEZ I am sure that without vowels Hebrew is indeed deeper than English, but with a pointed text, the pronunciation is more easily derived from the spelling in Hebrew than in English. –  Daniel Jan 21 at 20:47
@Daniel Orthographic depth is affected by more than how hard it is to pronounce the letters. Grammar rules (and exceptions) play a big part. Sight-reading means recognizing the words by seeing them, which can be difficult in a language with words with so many syllables and words that "look" different depending on the tense, gender, and pronouns associated with them, which are incorporated into the word itself (hence the orthographic depth). –  YeZ Jan 21 at 20:52

There is a mitzvah to review the parsha that will be read on the following Shabbos twice in Hebrew and once in “Targum”. See this OU article for more information.

Could you consider starting this with a few pesukim and slowly building up to the whole parsha?

There is an OU shiur on this which (if you can get along with the pronunciation of the Hebrew) could be a useful resource.

This should develop your ability to sight-read the Torah in Hebrew.

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This is helpful. The OU shiur may help me along. My practice up to this point has been to take short sections (maybe 10-15 pesukim) and read through several times with audio assistance from machon mamre if necessary. Then I go back and start to dissect meaning. –  noobie1 Jan 19 at 3:30
I have heard mixed opinions on relying on interlinear layouts too much vs parsing verbs effectively, etc. Some opinions seems to put MUCH emphasis on needing to know and and be able to work with the complex mechanics of grammer before reading. The other side says you can learn to read without being a master at grammar (which makes sense to me since I naturally acquired my first language this way and after taking several grammar classes my reading had not progressed greatly). My goal is simple. Read Torah, understand Torah, with progressively less need for english translations. –  noobie1 Jan 19 at 3:30

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