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On Yom Kippur and in Selichos we pray "The One who answered Avraham Avinu's prayer on Mount Moriah, should answer us". "מי שענה לאברהם אבינו בהר המוריה הוא יעננו".

What did Avraham pray for at Mount Moriah and get answered? On the contrary, Rashi Braishis 22:12 says that when he took Yitzchak to the Akeida and the angel told him to stop, he at first insisted that he wanted to at least draw some blood. "אל תשלח - לשחוט, אמר לו אם כן לחנם באתי לכאן, אעשה בו חבלה ואוציא ממנו מעט דם, אמר לו אל תעש לו מאומה, אל תעש בו מום"

So what prayer of Avraham are we talking about here?

  • Note that this tefillah is based on a very ancient tradition - namely the expanded 24-brachah amidah that was used on a ta'anit tzibbur, as detailed in the mishnah (Ta'anit Chapter 2). I haven't been able to look yet, but it's possible that the mefarshim on the mishna / gemara in Ta'anit may have other interpretations. – Joel K Sep 25 '17 at 14:13
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I asked a fellow in Shul this morning this question, and he showed me a fascinating Medrash Raba. Medrash Raba Vayeira 56 third line from the top. Avaraham prayed at Mount Moriah after he was told not to sacrifice Yitzchak that Hashem should have Mercy on the Jews even if due to sin they are not deserving of it .

ר' יוחנן אמר: אמר לפניו רבון העולמים בשעה שאמרת לי קח נא את בנך את יחידך היה לי מה להשיב אתמול אמרת כי ביצחק וגו' ועכשיו קח נא את בנך וגו' וחס ושלום לא עשיתי כן אלא כבשתי רחמי לעשות רצונך יהי רצון מלפניך ה' אלהינו בשעה שיהיו בניו של יצחק באים לידי עבירות ומעשים רעים תהא נזכר להם אותה העקידה ותתמלא עליהם רחמים

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This bothered me too. Not just concerning Avraham, but by many of the situations mentioned in 'Mi Sh'ana', we never find the people mentioned actually praying or asking anything of Hashem.

The answer I've told myself is based on an Or HaChaim in Shmos chapter 2 vs 23-24. The Torah tells us that the cries of the Jews from their work went up to Hashem And Hashem heard their cries. The Or HaChaim explains 'it was not the case that they prayed to Hashem to save them,but they cried from the pain like a person crying from his pain. And the Torah tells us that this crying went up before Hashem etc'.

It seems that Hashem is able to equate a person's cries of pain to a prayer when He sees fit. Now, although we don't find Avraham or any of the others in Mi Sh'ana actually crying out, the fact of the matter is they would have liked the situation to be different, otherwise this would not be a test. Hashem's intervention is called a response, even if there was no actual prayer.

I am aware Rashi in vs 6 says Avraham went with desire and happiness to slaughter his son, but this was a description of his actions And convictions based on Hashem's command, not what he personally would have chosen to be. Otherwise it would not have been a test as I mentioned before.

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