Introduction to Malachi
The Gemara (Megillah 15a) reports that some opine Malachi was Mordechai of the Purim story. Other commentaries say that Malachi was Ezra HaSofer, while others believe Malachi to be a separate individual. Malachi was a contemporary of Chaggai and Zecharia. Malachi moved from Bavel to Eretz Yisrael and was one of the anshei kenesses hagdolah. He was the student of either Yechezkel or Baruch ben Neriah, and he lived at a time when many of Bnei Yisrael were unfamiliar with a lifestyle of Torah and mitzvos. For example, many had married out and the Kohanim did not offer the right sacrifices in the Beis Hamikdash. Malachi is the final book of the Trei Asar and his prophecies center upon fixing the wrongs of the generation who had returned to Eretz Yisrael from Bavel, including intermarriage and desecration of Shabbos.
Perek 1: The Haftara of Toldos is from Malachi 1-2:7
Malachi related that Hashem loved Bnei Yisrael, as we see Eisav was allocated an inferior plot of land, Seir, despite being the firstborn (Rashi). Although Edom claim that their land will flourish and will be built up, Hashem will ensure that when “they build, I will destroy” and Edom will be loathed by the nations. This will be a punishment for having attacked Bnei Yisrael incessantly and having rejoiced at their demise (Radak). Malachi rebukes the Kohanim first, as not only did they fail to live up to their task by offering up the wrong offerings and treating the altar with disrespect, but they did not rebuke the people either (Radak). The people would offer up stolen and blemished animals; the public even donated a blemished animal to the Beis Hamikdash while they had a large stock of unblemished animals (Rashi).
Perek 2: Malachi warned the Kohanim that if they do not heed the message to cease offering blemished sacrifices, Hashem would stop bestowing blessings upon them (Radak). Hashem would “Scatter the dung of their offerings on their faces”, symbolic of the derision involved with receiving such sacrifices (Rashi). Malachi questioned why, if Bnei Yisrael recognize that one G-d created the world and that they have one father, they intermarry with idolaters? Malachi rebuked anyone who has relations with a gentile, and cautioned that if they were a Kohen, their offspring would not be able to serve in the Beis Hamikdash (Rashi). Malachi related that Jewish women were being treated as second wives to the gentile ones (Rashi) and this compounded the people’s sins in the Beis Hamikdash. Hashem admonished Bnei Yisrael for claiming they were merely following in the footsteps of Avraham marrying Hagar, for they had immoral intentions while Avraham inteneded to procreate as Sarah was barren (Metzudas David). Malachi discussed how Bnei Yisrael saw the wicked prosper and claimed that Hashem rewards decrepit behavior
Perek 3: Hashem responded that a clear justice system will exist when He will send an angel to eradicate the wicked during the era of Moshiach (Rashi). Furthermore, Malachi related that Hashem will dwell in the Beis Hamikdash. The angel will ruthlessly distinguish between good and evil (Radak), and likewise, the tribe of Levi will be purged of sin. Thus, Bnei Yisrael’s sacrifices shall once against be pleasant to Hashem. Malachi warned the people that the great Day of Judgment is arriving, when Hashem will punish sorcerers, adulterers, those who do not pay their workers on time, those who exploit the vulnerable members of society and those who do not fear Him. Malachi emphasized that Hashem has not changed and similarly the Bnei Yisrael will never be eliminated. Hashem challenged Bnei Yisrael to pay their tithes, and promised that their produce will flourish and be praised worldwide. Hashem will send Eliyahu Hanavi before Moshiach and he will cause fathers and sons to unite and repent (Radak). When Bnei Yisrael disobeyed Hashem, they failed to admit their wrongdoing even when Hashem punished them. The people have maintained that serving Hashem is futile and they gain nothing from it, so they followed wicked, yet successful, people who have ‘Disobeyed Hashem and got away with it’.