The Midrash says: And I will remember my covenant with Jacob.
This is what the Psalmist is referring to when he said: ”You took the vine from Egypt, etc.”( Psalms 80:9) Just like the vine is supported by dry trees and is still moist, so too, the people of Israel rely on their Forefathers merit -even though the forefathers are asleep.( Vayikrah Rabba 36)
In a very deep spiritual dimension, though asleep, dead and buried, the Forefathers beg for their children: “The rabbis have taught: Six (people) were not under the jurisdiction of the angel of death: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron and Miriam…”( Talmud Bavli: Baba Batra 17a)
Every time when the world is in need of mercy and the living are stressed, prayer is recited and the Forefathers:
“The Slumbers of Hebron”-rise and go to the earthy Garden of Eden where all the spirits of the righteous are found and they wrap themselves with a crown of light; they consult with them, and declare a decree. The All-Mighty is bound by that decree and does their will to show mercy on the world. And when the world is in need of mercy and the living go and inform the souls of the righteous and weep over their graves-then the righteous people who are on the proper level to bond their soul with those of the righteous departed.
Then the souls of the departed righteous awaken and gather to go to the “Slumbererss of Hebron”[the Forefathers] and inform them of the world’s plight and all go up to the gate of the garden of Eden and inform the wind, Those spirits who are surrounded with the Garden of Eden have supreme angels among them and all of these inform the Neshama (a supreme soul) and it informs the All-Mighty and all together beg mercy for the living and for their sake, the All-Mighty bestows His mercy on the world. (Zohar Beresheet 39:1)
When G-d remembers His children He drops two [of his] tears in the great sea. The sound of these tears falling among the waves reaches the Cave of Machpela and awakens the Forefathers. They rise surmising that the All-Mighty wants to destroy the world. Soon a voice is heard: ”Do not fear holy and beloved ones? It is for you that G-d remembers your children and wants to redeem them… and so you will see.
In many daily prayer books we can find the “Elijah’s Introduction” prayer. It reads:
Rose Rabbi Shimon and said: ”To you G-d is the greatness, the power, the eternity and the glory. “(Chron. I. 29:11) Hear O Supreme ones! Those who dwell in Hebron and [Moses] the loyal shepherd! Awaken from your slumber! Awake and sing, you that dwell in the dust. These are the righteous who are of the position of: ”I am asleep but my heart is awake” and are not dead and that is why it is said of them: “…awake and sing, you that dwell in the dust…” You loyal shepherd, you and the Forefathers, awake and sing, to awaken the Divine Presence [Shechina] which is dormant in the exile, as the righteous ones who also sleep in their caves. Soon the Divine Presence gives out three sounds in front of the loyal shepherd (Moses) and says to him: ”Rise, loyal shepherd…” Soon he rises and with him the holy Forefathers.
According to the Talmud, it is Elijah the prophet who will awaken the Forefathers. This talmudic tale tells us that Elijah the Prophet was accustomed to visit Rebbi’s (Rabbi Judah the Prince) Yeshiva.
One day, the first of the Jewish month, Rebbi awaited him but he never came. When he finally came Rebbi asked Elijah why he tarried?
He answered that he goes to the Cave of the Machpela and waits until he awakens Abraham who washes his hands and prays as do Isaac and Jacob.
Asked Rebbi: ”Why don’t you raise them all at once?
Elijah answered: “So geat is their prayer that if they will all pray at once -they might bring the Messiah before his time.”( Bavli Tract Baba Metsiah 85b)