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Moshiach as a teacher/rabbi and/or national leader?


Rabbi Ari Shvat

Elul 1, 5777
Shalom, could you please help me with sources regarding Moshiach’s coming, specifically regarding him being a teacher. I am not referring to the ’way’ he comes, namely be’ita or achishena in Isa. 60:22, but the issue of him being teacher and king. I remember studying a long time ago that the MAIN or the FIRST thing Moshiach will do is teach the secrets and/or wholeness of Torah. This refers to Moshiach the TEACHER and only later on he becomes the KING. Thank you.
The Rambam raises the possibility that a navi (prophet) like Eliyahu will rise before (!) the Mashiach and before the Wars of Gog (after we return to Israel, the nations will attack us), and he (!) will teach and straighten us out (Hil. M’lachim 12, 2), but he stresses that this is just one of the opinions. What is clear is the aspect of the Mashiach being a political and military leader, as he writes that Bar Kochva had the necessary signs and could have been the Mashiach, and that R. Akiva and all the wise rabbis of his generations agreed, as well (ibid, 11, 2). Note again, that R. Akiva would have been the Eliyahu/teacher-like figure, and the Mashiach would be the political/military leader. The Rambam, as the Tanach (Bamidbar 24, 17-19; Amos 9, 11; Yishayahu 11 & 65 etc.), consistently stresses in other places as well, that Israeli Independence is the major aspect of y’mot haMashiach, see Hil. Tshuva 9, 2; and 8, 7. Although the Rambam also mentions in one of those sources that the forthcoming king from Beit David will be greater in Torah than Shlomo was, and great in prophecy, almost like Moshe, but it’s clear from his summary there (as well as in Hil. M’lachim, ibid) that the main change in y’mot haMashiach is that we’ll have self-rule which will free us for spiritual pursuits, without detailing who will teach us or will we learn ourselves (also Bar Kochva didn’t have this wisdom/teacher aspect at all, and wasn’t disqualified by this). The Rambam doesn’t relate at all to Mashiach ben Yosef, but those sources that do (like Pesikta Rabbati 36-37; Targum Yonatan, Shmot 40, 11; Rav Sa’adya Gaon, Emunot v’De’ot, 8, 6), would explain that this first MBY/Bar Kochva-figure will have the leadership qualities, while MBD will also combine the teacher/rabbi aspect, “Judah [=his tribe] will be for holiness” (Tehilim, 114, 2), as opposed to Ephraim [ben Yosef] who just has the leadership features. Incidentally, this is one of the major differences on the issue between Jews (who stress the national and military role) and Christians (who see Mashiach as just a spiritual leader).
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