I am not waiting for Moshiach. I am waiting for Eliyahu. But not just waiting, but preparing for his arrival and his message.
When Eliyahu returns, he comes to make shalom – “And he will return the hears of the fathers to the sons (al banim), and the hearts of the sons to their fathers (al avotam).”
We see that grammatically, the verse is not symmetrical. The verse should say, “And he will return the hearts of the fathers tothe sons (al banim), and the hearts of the sons to the fathers (al avot)”.
Why the change from “to the sons” (al banim) and later “to their fathers” (al avotam).
Another question, content wise, is why is it that the parents make the first move? Isn’t it more logical that the children return to their parents first, i.e. the wayward children returning home? The generation that is “off” returning to the ways of their parents? As they would say here, to the mesoira? Why the children first? Are the parents supposed to start wearing ripped jeans and listening to rap music? Clearly not. Something else is going on.
The answer to this question is very profound. Its possible that the “parents” in this verse is the FFB world, and the “children” are the BTs and Gerim who are the spiritual children of the FFB world. The children are the ones who possess an understanding of Torah that the parents simply do not have (for reasons I won’t delve into here). In fact, BT’s in particular are a cessation of the concept of “yeridot ha dorot” – we are aliyot hadorot, and our children, G-d should protect them, are a hemschech of that (granted their aliyah is a more gradual slope than ours).
The challenge is that the parents are ignoring the children. The parents believe, b’etzem, the children have nothing to contribute other than blind allegiance to the parents’ frameworks of understanding. The yetzer hara confuses the Parents to reject outright ideas that are insightful and true. The parents simply are not listening. Consequently, the children feel ignored and ultimately disenfranchised and abandoned. Applied to reality, this means many BT’s and Gerim “suffer in silent desperation” and live with a profound disconnect between themselves and the FFB world that bore them. (I can’t tell you h ow many BTs I know – 15 to 25 years into the game – who are heartbroken from being treated – spiritually – as second class citizens.) The parents ignore the children, and with it the very solutions they possess that could help solve the great problems facing klal Yisrael. (Of course, many BT’s think they can “make it” in the FFB world, only to realize there is a very real glass ceiling 20 years in, and if you think differently, the ceiling crashes down on you, as I am quite familiar with; I know some very big BT Rabbaim who admitted that, in the end, they are really hutznikim).
But soon, G-d willing, G-d will bring Eliyahu soon with the message “lo l’karev v’lo l’rahek”. When the fathers stop trying to convince the sons “Who are you?”, and instead admit the giant problems they cannot solve and say, “What do you have to say?”. The sons will felt heard and understood. Good solutions will be proffered and adopted. And the the fathers will then take their rightful place – as their fathers.
That’s the idea brought by the verse. In the beginning, when the fathers reach out to listen to the sons, the sons are not yet “their sons” – there is no connection. The fathers are moving to reestablish that connection. After the sons feel that the fathers care, then the sons respond by listening – listening because now the sons feel that the fathers are their fathers.
Obviously, at a different level, this verse provides tremendous hinuch in parenting as well. Listen to your children and take what they have to say seriously!!