“Moshe and Aharon assembled the congregation facing the rock and said to them: Listen now you rebels! Shall we bring forth water from this rock? So, Moshe raised his hand and hit the rock … and God said to Moshe and Aharon: Because you didn’t have faith (He’Emantem) in Me to sanctify Me before the Israelites, you will therefore not bring this congregation to the land which I have given to you. The waters are called Mei Merivah, the waters of strife, where the Israelites clashed with God, and He was sanctified through them (Moshe and Aharon)” (BeMidbar 20:10-13).
Rav Yaakov Yosef of Vilna asks how are we to reconcile the phrase “Because you didn’t have faith in Me” with the expression in our Shabbat morning prayers

“Your faithful servant, You labelled him (Moshe)”? Surely a person who does not display faith on one occasion can no longer be branded “faithful”? Furthermore, how are we to understand the apparent contradiction that “you didn’t have faith in Me to sanctify Me before the Israelites” but “He was sanctified through them”?
The Midrash (BeMidbar Rabbah 19:9) describes the incident at Mei Merivah that when Moshe and Aharon assembled the congregation facing the rock, the Israelites began saying: Moshe knows that there is water behind this rock and so it won’t be a miracle if he produces water from here! Moshe was therefore in a quandary. Should he pay attention to the Israelites and deviate from God’s will by producing water from a different rock in order to remove the Israelites’ disbelief, or should he adhere unwaveringly to God’s instruction?
Moshe, being God’s “faithful servant”, chose the latter, but Rav Yaakov Yosef says Moshe should have opted for the former because that would have strengthened the Israelites’ faith as required. Indeed, Moshe did perform a miracle, but not a great enough miracle to achieve the desired result.
The Gemara (Sanhedrin 7a) describes how Aharon had acted correctly when personally making the Golden Calf and building an altar (Shemot 32:4-5), reasoning that it was preferable for one individual to sin in order to prevent the masses from sinning. Even though the Torah states (Devarim 9:20): “God was angry with Aharon” for his role in the sin of the Golden Calf, that was for another reason. Rav Yaakov Yosef explains that since Aharon was Nogeya BaDavar (i.e. stood to benefit or lose personally from this matter) because he feared the masses would kill him, he was invalid to judge this case for himself! Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 7:12) clearly states that a Dayan (judge) is forbidden to judge a matter in which he has any vested interest whatsoever.
In our Sidra,

however, neither Moshe nor Aharon was Nogeya BaDavar and therefore they were obligated to judge the matter at hand! They should have opted for producing water from a different rock in order to strengthen the Israelites’ belief.

They should have deviated from God’s original instruction so as to prevent the masses from the sin of lacking faith in God. Since Moshe was God’s “faithful servant”, he neglected this opportunity to reinforce the Israelites’ faith. Instead, he told them: “Listen now you rebels! Shall we bring forth water from this rock?” i.e. this rock which you are selecting, rather than the rock which God had chosen.

Had Moshe responded appropriately to the Israelites’ challenge, he would have fortified (He’Emantem) their faith.

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