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Browse Torah Articles: Sefer Shemot: Parashat Tissaveh: Binyamin's Stone

Contributed by: R. Ezra E. Miztahi

We read in Parashat Tesaveh of the ritual attire that adorned Aharon Kohen Gadol, and every other high priest thereafter. One of these garments, was a breastplate that contained twelve stones, called the Hoshen. Each stone represented one of the twelve tribes. In the fourth row the Torah describes the stones that were present:

"In the fourth row a chrysolite, an onyx and a jasper, mount them in gold filigree settings." (Exodus 28:20)

The stone of "yashefeh" or jasper, was the stone for the tribe of Binyamin.

In ascertaining the level of respect one should have for one's parents, our rabbis relate a story that this stone was once lost, and that the Kohanim sent a messenger to purchase a replacement. The messenger arrived and found that Dama Ben Netina, the son of the store owner, was tending his father's position. The son was overseeing the store, while the father rested. The messenger was prepared to pay large amount of money for the stone. However, Dama's father was sleeping, and the key to retrieve the stone was located under the father's pillow.

Dama, a non-Jew, respected his father's sleep and did not wake him, even though there was a lot of money at stake.

The Gemara learns from Dama how far one should honor one's father and mother. The Meshech Hochma explains that it is very fitting for this stone to be the stone of Binyanim, for Binyanim always honored his parents, even more than his brothers. Remember that the other brothers caused their father Yaacov pain for selling Yosef. Even Yosef himself caused pain to Yaacov by not contacting him during the years he was free in Egypt.

Because of how Binyanim respected his parents, he merited having the Gemara use his stone as the archetype example of how far one must got to respect one's parents. His merit for honoring his parents was so great, that he also merited to have the divine presence reside in his territory, for the Bet Hamiqdash was in the territory of Binyanim.
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