Bezot-with this-Aaron shall come into the Holy Place...”

-Acharei 16:3

The word bezot would seem to be superfluous to the context. Thus we must say that it appears to convey a message.

Rashi explains the difficulty by quoting a Midrash: the gimatriya (numerical equivalent) of bezot is 410. This word thus alludes to the 410 years of the First Temple’s existence.

Rashi, as a rule, always explains the plain sense of the Torah. It follows, then, that his interpretation of bezot, too, reflects the plain sense of the verse. If that is the case, no doubt but that when Moses taught Israel the Torah, he must have told them this meaning. This raises a serious question: why would Moses tell them prior to their entering the Land of Israel, and prior to all the tragic sins that caused the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash, that the First Temple would exist for only 410 years? What is to be gained by already predicting this tragedy?

Moses did not try to dishearten the Jewish People. On the contrary: he informed the people that it is within their power to prevent that sad event. The Torah does not speak of the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash as something that had to happen. In Rashi’s words, it is only an allusion to the 410 years, i.e., a hint, for a possibility. Moses thus cautioned that the tragedy can be prevented. The proper behavior of the Jewish people would confer eternity to the first Beit Hamikdash and preclude any galut.

Even now, too, it is up to us. Our present conduct in matters of Torah and mitzvot can rid us of the galut. Our actions can hasten the coming of Moshiach with the third Beit Hamikdash that will stand forever.