It says in Kiddushin 40b נענה ר"ע ואמר תלמוד גדול נענו כולם ואמרו תלמוד גדול שהתלמוד מביא לידי מעשה (Rabbi Akiva answered and said: Study is greater. Everyone answered and said: Study is greater, as study leads to action.)

But then it says in Pirkei Avot 1:17 וְלֹא הַמִּדְרָשׁ הוּא הָעִקָּר, אֶלָּא הַמַּעֲשֶׂה. וְכָל הַמַּרְבֶּה דְבָרִים, מֵבִיא חֵטְא: (Study is not the most important thing, but actions; whoever indulges in too many words brings about sin.)

How can these teachings be reconciled?

  • 1
    How are these contradictory? The Gemara says that study is greater (גדול), while the Mishnah says that study is not primary (עיקר). It seems your question is based on a mistranslation.
    – DonielF
    Jul 14, 2019 at 22:54
  • Obviously when midrash has a practical consequence, the last step that is the application is critical.
    – kouty
    Jul 15, 2019 at 10:52
  • "Study is greater, as study leads to action."
    – user15253
    Jul 15, 2019 at 20:01

1 Answer 1


There is an extended comment of the Rambam on this Mishnah of avot. But I want only note here, according to the explanation of Bartenura that the Mishna says almost exactly what chachamim say in Kiddushin. They say גדול התלמוד שמביא לידי מעשה. The Talmud is greater because it leads to action. So, with Talmud we don't leave the action, we reinforce the action.

The Mishna in avot says according to Bartenura, paraphrases this statement.

שאפילו המדרש והדרש והדיבור בתורה שאין לך מדה טובה הימנה, אין עיקר קיבול השכר אלא בשביל המעשה, והדורש ואינו מקיים, נוח לו אם היה שותק ולא היה דורש

Even the midrash, that there is nothing better than it, leads to praise only for the action he leads to. But one who explains Tora and doesn't apply his teaching for himself, it would be better if he remained silent.

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