“The fourth row of stones [in the breastplate] was chrysolite,
onyx, and jasper.” (28:20)
QUESTION: The Jerusalem Talmud (Pei’ah 1:1) says we can
learn a lesson i n kibud av — honoring one’s father — from a
non-Jew by the name of Dama ben Netina. Once, the yashpeih
(jasper) stone of the breastplate got lost, and Dama ben Netina
happened to have one. When the Jews came to him, he refused
to sell i t , even at a very large profit, because the key to his safe
was under the p i l l ow upon which his father was sleeping.
Why was a lesson i n kibud av — honoring one’s father
conveyed specifically through the stone yashpeih?
ANSWER: On each of the 12 stones of the breastplate was
written the name of one of the 12 tribes. The stone yashpeih had
on it the name “Binyamin.” The numerical value of “yashpeih”
ישפה) ), counting the wo r d itself as one, is 396.
By plotting against Yosef and selling him, the brothers
caused much grief to Yaakov. Thus, their performance of the
mitzvah of kibud av was lacking. Binyamin was the only one who
had absolutely no part i n his brothers’ thoughts or activities
against Yosef. Consequently, he surpassed his brothers i n the
observance of the mitzvah of kibud av, and it is therefore most
appropriate that a lesson i n kibud av should be learned from the
stone which bore his name.