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Moshiach - Only in Israel?
Must Moshiach reveal himself only in the land of Israel?

In Igeret Teiman, Maimonides writes that the initial revelation of Moshiach will be in the land of Israel. However, in his monumental halachic work, Mishneh Torah, in the chapters that describe the coming of Moshiach, Maimonides does not mention this point. Igeret Teiman was written in year 4932 (since creation), while Mishneh Torah was written later, in year 4941. In addition, Maimonides revised his composition a number of times since the initial writing. Apparently, Maimonides changed his view regarding the location where Moshiach will initially appear.

There are other differences in Maimonides’ description of Moshiach’s revelation in Igeret Teiman and Mishneh Torah. In Igeret Teiman, the goal of Maimonides was to refute the claims of the Christians and to prove that their “savior” did not meet the halachic criteria of Moshiach. The basis of their claims lay in the miracles that he supposedly performed. Maimonides sought to prove that if Moshiach will establish himself through miracles, then his revelation must take place in the land of Israel, as the verse in Malachi states: “And suddenly, the Lord Whom you seek will come to His Temple.” G-d’s Temple is located only in the land of Israel.

In Mishneh Torah, Maimonides is describing a different scenario, when Moshiach will be revealed in stages, according to the natural order. In this case, he will not necessarily be revealed first in the land of Israel. First Moshiach will lead the Jewish people and enter into the halachic category of “assumed Moshiach.” Then, at a later point, he will rebuild the Temple and gather up the exiles, at which point he will be declared the “definite Moshiach.” However, since his initial revelation will occur in a natural manner, not through miracles, there is no basis to state categorically that he will reveal himself only in Israel.

(Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Melachim, ch. 11:1. Igeret Teiman.)
 

 


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