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In Tefilas Geshem we say "Al HaSela Hach Vayeitzu Mayim"

translated by Artscroll as:

Remember the one [Moses] drawn forth in a bulrush basket from the water. They said, 'He drew water and provided the sheep with water.' At the time Your treasured people thirsted for water, he struck the rock and out came water.

So far I know, Moshe Rabeinu was taken to task over hitting the rock. Then why do we pray that in this Zechus we should get water???

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Can't it be referring to Exodus 17 6 –  Double AA Jul 2 '12 at 18:57
    
@DoubleAA Nine seconds. –  msh210 Jul 2 '12 at 18:58
    
@msh210 But I found the source before posting. –  Double AA Jul 2 '12 at 18:59
    
@DoubleAA And I did not. :-) –  msh210 Jul 2 '12 at 18:59
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2 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Taken from Artscroll's Daily Dose ed. 1 vol. 14 p. 272:

Answer #1: The author of these piyutim believes that Moshe's sin was not hitting the rock, but for some other reason.

Problem: Although it is not a sin, why mention it at all? The prayer is about recalling the merits of people relating to rain.

Answer #2: It is referring to the incident in Beshalach (as in msh210's answer).

Problem (Baruch She'amar): Ein kateigor naaseh saneigor (a prosecutor can't become a defendant); the rock recalls both instances.

Problem (R' Schwab): The piyut uses the word "sela," which is the word used in Chukas; if it were referring to Beshalach, it should have said "tzur" (the word used there).

Answer #3 (Baruch She'amar): The premature death of tzadikim that comes as a result of punishment, atones (Yerushalmi, Yoma 1:1). Therefore, we do recall Mei Merivah, because it is a merit (since it atones)!

Answer #4 (R' Schwab): Although Moshe sinned, the water coming out was nevertheless a miracle and kidush Hashem, so it is also partially a merit.

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It happened twice, you know. The first time he was supposed to hit it, did so, and wasn't taken to task. I have no source, but imagine the piyut is referring to this.

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It is interesting though that the time Moshe was not taken to task, the rock is called a tzur; the time he was, it's called a sela; and the piyut uses the word sela. So this answer is actually somewhat weak. –  msh210 Jul 2 '12 at 19:08
    
More at chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/5199524#5199524 et seq. –  msh210 Jul 2 '12 at 19:34
    
...and see the other (much better) answer. –  msh210 Jul 2 '12 at 20:20
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