By: Steve Kirschenbaum
Many Rishonim give different explanations as to what Moshe Rabbeinu did wrong in the Maaseh
Mei Miriva; the basic and most prominent Pshat is that of Rashi. Rashi explains that Moshe
Rabbeinu struck the stone instead of speaking to the stone. At face value, this seems to be a very
elementary mistake and the Onesh doesn’t seem proportionate in a way that ultimately fits the
The Netziv uses this as a springboard to discuss what he calls a Hakdama to an Ikkur Gadol
B’Tefillah, a fundamental idea when it comes to Davening. Says the Netziv, שרוצה בזמן אפילו
גורמת תפילה הקב”ה, even in an instance when HKBH wants to give you something, Tefillah
expedites and ensures that it happens. HKBH embedded into the very nature of the Briya this
notion that even if you’re supposed to be given something from HKBH, there are times that it
will only come your way if you Daven for it. The proof for this is from Eliyahu HaNavi.
When Eliyahu HaNavi declared a drought on the ten Shevatim, the drought continued for a while,
and then HKBH informed Eliyahu the drought was over. מטר ואתנה אחאב אל הראה, you go to
Achav and do whatever you can to help give Mussar to Klal Yisrael. HKBH said I had enough, I
will bring rain and there will be no more drought. Eliyahu then goes to Har HaCarmel, showed
that the Aish came from Shamayim, he then Davens, and then the rain comes. The question is why
does he have to Daven since G-d had already said that it’s time to give rain?
Explains the Netziv, there are two types of Davening. Bi’shaas Tzara, when in Shamayim we
have no Zechusim and we’re experiencing some type of Tzar, that’s one type of Tefillah;
Davening can overturn the decree in this instance. The second type of Davening is when G-d is
ready to give to you, but He says come and ask for it. Tefillah then makes it happen.
In a case when G-d is ready to give, there’s no difference between the Tefillah of the Gadol
HaDor and the Tefillah of an ordinary person. When G-d is ready to give, all you have to do is
ask. However, Bi’shaas Tzarah, then you need the Tefillah of an Adam Gadol to be Mehapeich
The Yesod is that HKBH implanted within the Briya that Davening makes things happen;
Tefillah is Po’el. Similarly, in Bereishis 2:5 ‘V’chol Si’ach HaSadeh,’ the things that grow in the
field are referred to as Si’ach HaSadeh, literally meaning that which grows in the field. But
Si’ach can also serve as a reference to Davening. It says in Avoda Zara 7b a Sadeh, a field refers
to Parnasa. תפלה אלא שיחה אין. What grows in a field is called Si’ach HaSadeh. It comes to
fruition through Tefillah; it comes about because of Davening. G-d made it that way within the
The Netziv continues that Davening, Korbanos, and working in a field are all references to
Avodah; Parnasa is earned through Avodah. So B’derech HaTeva working in a field is Avodah,
but Min HaShamayim if you incorporate this into your Davening, into your Avodah, you can
make it come as well. For this reason, these are all references to Avodah; two sides to the same
Elsewhere, the Netziv explains that even when Klal Yisrael behaved in Eretz Yisrael, there were
Bamos in the Land. How can it be that a king like Chizkiya can awaken so many to do Teshuva
but he couldn’t dispose of the Bamos in Eretz Yisrael? Says the Netziv, because that was a form
of Avodah and for a Segula for Parnasa, he couldn’t force the people to stop. The Yesod is that
Tefillah is Po’el Parnasa; it brings Beracha. When you deserve it, you have to work for it, but
you also have to just ask for it. That’s Tefillah.
What was the Aveira of the Mei Miriva? Rashi says Moshe hit the stone and didn’t talk to the
stone. The Ribbono Shel Olam said Klal Yisrael lived B’derech Neis. The first time that water
had to come from the stone, Moshe hit the stone and the water came; no more. Klal Yisrael is
now venturing into Eretz Yisrael; the Ananei HaKavod are no more. The Nisim Klal Yisrael
grew accustomed to in the Midbar are no more; Klal Yisrael now must realize that they’re
entering into a world of Teva. In this world, Davening is Po’el. They may think that Davening is
only Po’el B’derech Neis. On the contrary, Davening is Po’el B’derech Teva. For this reason,
Moshe should have spoken rather than hit the stone.
So, it’s now a new Tekufa in Klal Yisrael. Talk to the stone. What do you mean talk to the stone?
Daven that the water should come from the stone and then it will come. Instead, Moshe
Rabbeinu made a mistake; he didn’t teach Klal Yisrael. There was a P’gam in his Avodah as the
Rebbi of Klal Yisrael and for that reason he lost his position so to speak as the Rebbi of Klal
Yisrael. A beautiful Pshat in the Cheit Mei Miriva. Not a new explanation, but a Pshat in Rashi’s
explanation regarding the difference between talking to the stone as opposed to hitting the stone.