The Navi Malachi proclaims, “Behold I will send to you Eliyahu Ha’Navi… and he will return the heart of fathers to their children and the heart of children to their fathers.” Horav Tzvi Hirsch Ferber, z.l., writes that he once heard a novel interpretation of this pasuk in conjunction with the above pasuk from our parsha. Parents are required to teach their children Torah, placing emphasis upon their religious observance so that they merit Olam Haba. Children, on the other hand, are obliged to care for the physical well-being of their parents, concerning themselves with their parents’ Olam Hazeh.
Regrettably, we have turned into a dor tahapuchos, a generation in which everything is reversed. Parents who should concern themselves with their child’s spiritual dimension are placing prime focus upon their children’s material needs. They make choices regarding their child’s future by determining what will enhance their socio-economic status.
Consequently, children who have not been reared with the Torah as their all-encompassing beacon of inspiration, do not involve themselves in their parents’ Olam Hazeh. Rather, they wake up only when their parents are in Olam Haba. They remember their parents when it is time to say Kaddish or Yizkor, or to visit their gravesites — at their convenience.
The Navi, therefore, responds that in the future — with the advent of Eliyahu Ha’Navi — the heart of parents who had cared more about their children’s Olam Hazeh will be redirected to pursue the correct focus on their children’s spiritual development. Similarly, children will remember their parents while they are still alive, demonstrating a proper display of gratitude and providing for their physical well-being. Only a child nurtured in Torah understands life’s priorities and addresses them accordingly.