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Rock Hitter

Written by Rabbi Yehoshua Alt, 24/6/2020

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Rock Hitter

The Gemara[1] tells us מלה בסלע משתוקא בתרין, if a word is worth a Sela (currency) then silence is worth two. The Iturai Torah tells us that if Moshe would have spoken to the rock (מלה בסלע as סלע also means a rock), water would have come out. However, he was silent and instead hit the rock—twice that is—משתוקא בתרין. After hitting it twice water came out.[2] The Be’er Mayim Chaim tells us a fascinating hint to this. Spelling out the word סלע we get סמך למד עין. If we “hit” these letters twice (removing the first and last letters of each) our result is מיםסמך למד עין.


If Moshe would have spoken to the rock then he wouldn’t have been punished by not going into Eretz Yisrael. Eldad and Meidad prophesized that Moshe will die and Yehoshua will bring the Jews into Eretz Yisrael.[3] Indeed, it says Eldad and Meidad were prophesizing—מתנבאים—in the camp. The Baal Haturim[4] points out that that the word מתנבאים is a contraction ofנביאם  מת. The Apta Rav shows us an allusion to this. מלה בסלע—if Moshe would have spoken to the rock, then משתוקא בתרין—Eldad and Meidad (two) would have been silent as they wouldn’t have said that prophesy.

Rabbi Alt merited to learn under the tutelage of R’ Mordechai Friedlander Ztz”l for close to five years. He received Semicha from R’ Zalman Nechemia Goldberg. Rabbi Alt has written on numerous topics for various websites and publications and is the author of the Sefer, Fascinating Insights: Torah Perspectives On Unique Topics. His writings inspire people across the spectrum of Jewish observance to live with the vibrancy and beauty of Torah. He lives with his wife and family in a suburb of Yerushalayim where he studies, writes and teaches. The author is passionate about teaching Jews of all levels of observance.

[1] Megila 18a.

[2] Bamidbar 20:11.

[3] Sanhedrin 17a.

[4] Bamidbar 11:27.

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