As we are taught in today’s daf (Yoma 17b), the Kohen Gadol has priority rights to offer any sacrifice he wishes as well as the first right to take any portion to eat, as the Beraita teaches us: “How does he exercise his priority rights to offer any portion? He says, “I will offer this Olah”, or “I will offer this Mincha”. And how does he exercise his priority rights to take any portion? He says, “I will eat this Chatat”, or “I will eat this Asham” etc.”
And why is this significant? Because unlike a regular Kohen who, as we are told later on in the Massechet (Yoma 25a) is assigned their role in terms of which sacrifice to offer by means of a lottery, the Kohen Gadol himself can choose decide which offerings to first offer and which of those he will eat.
However, if – as the Beraita states – the Kohen Gadol does have priority rights, then why are we told that he makes these various declarations of “I will offer this Olah” or “I will eat this Chatat”? Who is the Kohen Gadol talking to?
According to the ‘pshat’, he is talking to the Anshei Mishmar – meaning the Kohanim who are on duty during that time. However, there is another way of understanding these declarations – which is that the Kohen Gadol is actually talking to himself. And why? Because when a person is involved in an important activity, they often are bolstered by the chizuk (encouragement) they receive from others, and when they are working on their own, they need even more chizuk – which often has to come from themselves.
Given this, it is possible to interpret these declarations as a form of self-encouragement and self-coaching by the Kohen Gadol for himself, to help him work through, and feel confident in, the choices and actions he is taking.