The Jewish people wander through the desert, thirsty and impatient.
“Why did you bring us…to this evil place? There is no water!” they wail.
Hashem tells Moshe to take his staff, gather the people and speak to a certain rock so that it will give its waters.
The Medrash explains that this was the same rock that miraculously provided water in Miriam’s merit throughout the Jewish people’s travels. Upon her death, the water ceased. Now Hashem wanted to resume the water through Moshe’s speech.
But when he speaks to the rock, nothing happens.
Maybe I have the wrong rock, Moshe reasons. He speaks to a second rock. No water.
Over a million Jews are wailing. G-d’s command rings in his ears. He’s failing.
He remembers: G-d once told him to strike a rock with his staff. He was told to bring the staff along this time, too. The people are out of control. It’s true that G-d asked him to speak, but something has to happen.
So he hits. Water trickles forth. Something still needs to happen. He hits it a second time and now it gushes.
And then G-d says, Because you did not believe in me, you will not come to the land.
Our Sages say that though the intensity of the test was unique to Moshe, the principle applies to all of us.
How many times do I experience an urgency: something’s wrong; I’m failing; the kids are yelling. I’m generally aware that the path of humility is how things get done and that ignoring that path more often breaks things than fixes them. Still, there are times where the thought says, “Forget inner wisdom; G-d’s out of reception area. It’s time to roll up my sleeves and get things done.”
Moshe’s mistake is called a lack of belief because he forgets that there’s only one source for solutions in this world. A bad solution now is no solution. A good solution is always present if we’re prepared to wait.