Ask the rabbi

  • Torah and Jewish Thought
  • Torah Teachings

Study and "doing"


Rabbi Jonathan Blass

14 Shevat 5763
On the one hand, the philosophy of "naaseh v’nishma" is lauded in Judaism. we’re praised for "doing then learning", for taking a leap of faith. on the other hand, there’s the reasoning of rabbi akiva of "talmud gadol" as opposed to "maaseh". in other words, that learning is better because it leads to doing. so i see a contadiction: one says "do then learn" and the other says "learn then do". am i reading the sources correctly? is there really a stira? if so, how can one resolve it, if it’s able to be resolved at all? thank you.
One does the mitzvot even before he understands the “why” of the mitzva (he must understand the “how to”). Talmud Torah is greater not because it is a precondition of action but exactly the opposite: since one does a mitzva before he understands it, doing the mitzva does not encompass understanding that comes later. Understanding that is more than sterile intellectualism, that encompasses the mind in a real sense, when it it is finally achieved, also engages and obligates all human abilities.
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