by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The High Priest, the Cohen Gadol, performs a special service in the Tent of Meeting on Yom Kippur. Only he performs this service and he does it alone. The Torah states:
“And there shall be no man in the Tent of Meeting when he goes in to make atonement in the sacred place” (Leviticus 16:17).
Why does the Torah emphasize, “and there shall be no man” when he does the service?
The commentary Degel Machaneh Ephraim, points out that the Cohen Gadol might feel conceited being the only one chosen from the entire nation to perform the sacred service on the most holy day of the year. He might focus on the honor he was receiving from others and how other people would be thinking of him with respect and even awe. Therefore, the Torah tells him, “There shall be no man,” that is, the Cohen Gadol should mentally view the world as if there were no other people in existence. He should do this when he enters the tent of meeting to make atonement in the sacred place. By having this mental attitude, he frees himself from any thoughts of seeking honor and approval.
This is a useful technique for people who are worried about what others think about them. If no one else exists, then you do not need to worry what they think of you. In truth, others do not think about you as much as you think they do. And if they do think about what you do, it makes little practical difference — especially, if you use this technique to free yourself from the harm and pain caused by the illusion that they are thinking about you and that it matters.