Maamar Shalosh Shevuos Siman 38

[In the previous siman, the Rebbe pointed out an apparent contradiction between two works of the Rambam. In his letter to Yemen, he states that moshiach will judge based on smell alone, and that the signs and wonders he will perform will be the proof to his authenticity. In Yad Hachazakah, he says that moshiach need not perform any miracles; the only criterion for moshiach is that he must compel all Jews to follow the Torah.]

However, with a little analysis, we will see that there is no contradiction here. For even in the Sefer Hayad itself, the Rambam writes later in Hilchos Melachim (12:3) that moshiach will be a prophet:

All of Israel will gather around him and he will establish their lineage with the prophetic spirit that rests upon him.

The Rambam brings proof to this from the verse, “And Hatirshasa told them that they could not eat from the holiest foods until a kohein would arise with the Urim Vetumim” (Ezra 2:63). The Kesef Mishneh quotes the Tosefta, which comments on the above verse, “Like a man who says to his friend, until moshiach comes.” [The Kesef Mishneh states that this is found in the Tosefta Kesubos Chapter 1, but it is not found there in our versions of the Tosefta; a similar Tosefta appears, however, in Sotah 13:3, with one difference: instead of a reference to moshiach, it ends, “Like a man who says to his friend, until the dead come back to life, or until Eliyahu comes.” The text of the Gemara in Sotah 48b is, “Like a man who says to his friend, until the dead come back to life and Moshiach ben Dovid comes.”] We see from this that moshiach will have at his disposal the Urim Vetumim, which is more powerful than prophecy, as is evident from the fact that it has the power to testify to a kohein’s lineage, something that even the great prophets of Ezra’s time could not do. Now, the Urim Vetumim was certainly an amazing miracle, one of the greatest wonders of the world. So we see that even in Sefer Hayad, the Rambam says that moshiach will perform miracles.

In Hilchos Teshuva 9:1, the Rambam states further regarding the messianic king:

He will be wiser than King Solomon and a prophet almost as great as Moshe Rabbeinu, and therefore he will teach the entire Jewish people and guide them in the path of Hashem; all the gentile nations will come to listen to him as well.

So we see that even in the Sefer Hayad, the Rambam holds that the messianic king will be a prophet greater than all the other prophets, almost as great as Moshe Rabbeinu, just as he writes in Igeres Teiman. He also writes that all the gentile nations will come to listen to him, and it is certainly not natural that all the nations should come to listen to a Jewish man.

Furthermore, the Rambam writes earlier, in Hilchos Yesodei Hatorah 7:1:

Prophecy rests only upon someone who possesses great wisdom, strength of character, someone whose evil inclination never defeats him in any area, but who always defeats his evil inclination… someone who leads a holy life, separating himself from the ways of common people who walk in the darkness of the times, constantly urging himself to do better and teaching himself never to think about empty matters or current vanities and ideas…

He writes at length about the qualities a prophet must have, and then turns (7:7) to the criteria for identifying a prophet:

When G-d sends a prophet, He gives him a sign or a wonder so that the people should know that G-d truly sent him. But we do not simply accept anyone who performs a sign or a wonder
as a prophet. Only if someone whom we knew beforehand as fit for prophecy, by virtue of his wisdom, his deeds superior to all of his colleagues, someone who follows the holy and pious path of prophecy, comes and performs a sign or a wonder and claims that G-d sent him, it is a mitzvah to listen to him.

Similarly, he writes in Hilchos Yesodei Hatorah 10:1-2:

Whenever a prophet arises among us and claims that Hashem sent him…we say to him: If you are a prophet, tell us some future events. He tells us, and then we wait to see if his words come true. Even if one minor detail fails to materialize, we know that he is a false prophet… If all his words come true, then he becomes trusted in our eyes. We test him many times. If on every occasion his words come true, he is a true prophet.

Thus, if the Rambam writes that the messianic king will be such a great prophet, it must be that he will be tested with a sign or wonder, combined with all the above-mentioned qualities that a prophet must possess. Obviously, then, when he writes in Hilchos Melachim that “moshiach need not performs signs or wonders, changing the nature of the world, resurrecting the dead or similar things” he means only that moshiach will not have to make the sort of miracles that change the nature of the world, like resurrecting the dead and other supernatural feats. Those things will happen at a time further into the future. But the messianic king himself will certainly be a wondrous person.

This resolution of the Sefer Hayad with the Igeres Teiman – that moshiach will indeed perform miracles but nothing that changes the nature of the world – is explicit in the Rambam’s Commentary on the Mishnah, in the chapter Chelek of Sanhedrin, where he writes regarding the messianic king:

His name will be renowned and he will be known throughout the nations, more famous than King Solomon. All the nations will make peace with him and all the lands will serve him because of his great righteousness and the wonders that he will perform. Nothing of nature will change from its current state, except that sovereignty will return to Israel.

Here the Rambam makes much of the miracles that will be performed by moshiach, yet states in the same breath that no change in nature will take place. This shows that there is no contradiction between the Rambam’s works Yad Hachazakah and Igeres Teiman. We need not write at length to explain all the details, for the above is clear to anyone who studies the text.