Now we had our own sort of secret system, and we forged ahead with renewed excitement. The tempo and drive built on their own energy, pushing us forward. Vigorous reading- slow but strong, a suspenseful wait with finger-on-place while I rushed through Rashi at a frenzied pace, a shout of “five seconds!”, renewed concentration for the finger-at-the-right-place- And then we were off again! Again and again and again. It was a long road, but action packed, broken only by quick breaks between the seven parts of the parsha.
I kept waiting for Miri to tire. How far could the child go? But she just kept going. I know she was paying attention, because she never lost the place. Once or twice there was a shout of, “Hey! I know what this words means! We learned it in school!”
Out of thousands of strange words.
I guess I’m not the only one it was appealing to, because, when Avi pushed his bright black eyes through the door somewhere near the end, he begged to join. Eight year old Avi can’t have understood much either, but at least he could read Rashi. Soon we were off, the three of us, two small, strong voices joining mine.
It was hard to believe. I kept wondering when she would be finished, but she just kept at it. A few short breaks for drinks… and the rest of the time she just sat there, in her chair, small finger on the place, large eyes over pink cheeks looking only at the page. Her slow, careful voice read through each word, giving it the time and attention a treasure deserves.
We finished the parsha.
We closed our Chumashim and kissed them with pride. I congratulated my partners with admiration and excitement. “And now,” I said, “we will have to make a siyum!”
While we discussed the details of that very important endeavor, I stared at Miri, still somewhat disbelieving. She had just kept at it and kept at it and kept at it until we were done.
I had loved her when she wrapped her arms around me and met my eyes with her wide, endless brown ones.
I knew she was special when she sat on my lap and listened to what I said, those wide, open eyes taking it all in.
But now… now I knew Miri was a treasure.