This Shabbos is the day before Rosh chodesh and we read a special haftorah for machar chodesh (the next day being Rosh Chodesh) from Shmuel Alef (perek 20). In this haftorah, King Shaul’s family’s reign was destined to be broken, because he committed the sin of not completely wiping out Amalek when he had the chance. The prophet Nosson had already proclaimed Dovid to one day become king. Shaul, in a jealous rage, wanted to murder Dovid (who happened to be son-in-law), so Dovid went into hiding. Yonason, Shaul’s son, who was next in line to become king, was best friends with Dovid and accepted the fate of Dovid one day becoming king instead of him. One Rosh chodesh Dovid did not show up in his normal spot at the king’s feast both days of Rosh chodesh and Shaul was outraged. Dovid was hiding from Shaul and Yonason gave an excuse why he didn’t show up both days. Shaul didn’t hear of it.
The Navi relates: “And Shaul’s wrath was kindled against Yonason, and he said to him, ‘You son of a straying woman deserving of punishment! Did I not know that you choose the son of Yishai, to your shame and to the shame of your mother’s? For all the days that the son of Yishai is living on the earth, you and your kingdom will not be established. And now, send and take him to me, for he is condemned to death.’ And Yonanson answered Shaul his father, and said to him, ‘Why should he be put to death? What has he done?’ And Shaul cast the spear upon him to strike him; and Yonason knew that it had been decided upon by his father, to put Dovid to death. And Yonason arose from the table in fierce anger; and he did not eat any food on the second day of Rosh chodesh, for he was grieved concerning Dovid, for his father had put him to shame” (Shmuel Alef 20:30-34).
The Ralbag observes that there were two reasons why Yonason did not eat bread on the second day of Rosh chodesh. The first was because he was saddened for Dovid, that he was forced to separate from him out of fear of his father. This was the more compelling reason, and that is why it was mentioned first. The second reason was because his father disgraced him when he called him ‘You son of a straying woman deserving of punishment!’ (Click here and here for Hebrew text.)
Yonason had an extremely close and loving relationship with Dovid. One could understand the first and main reason stopping him from eating; but if not for the second reason, it sounds from the Ralbag that Yonason might have taken at least a nibble of bread.
Why was Yonason affected by Shaul’s insult? On the contrary, Yonason was rebuking his father at the time, as we find in the Yalkut Shimone quoting the gemara in Erechin 16b. The pasuk says: ‘You shall surely rebuke your fellow’ (Vayikra 19:17). To what extent would one rebuke another? Rav says until he is about to strike you, Shmuel says until he curses you, and Rebbe Yochanan says until he is furious at you. Rav Nachman bar Yitzhak says all three opinions are based on the same passage as it writes: “And Shaul’s wrath was kindled against Yonason, and he said to him, ‘You son of a straying woman deserving of punishment!’” It then writes “And Shaul cast the spear upon him to strike him”. According to the opinion that you should rebuke one until he is ready to strike you that is what the pasuk is referring to when it says “to strike him”. According to the opinion that one should rebuke until he curses you it writes, ‘to your shame and to the shame of your mother’s.” According to the opinion that one should rebuke until he is furious, it write, “And Shaul’s wrath was kindled.” According to the opinion that one should rebuke his fellow until his fellow is furious at him why did Yonason go as far as Shaul cursing him and almost striking him? This case was different because of the extra love Yonason had for Dovid he gave of himself more. (Click here for Hebrew text.)
We see from this Chaza”l that Yonason should have been unfazed by his father’s comments, and on the contrary, he knew his father was wrong and deranged; so why did he feel insulted?
The answer is: “Sticks and stone MIGHT break my bones but words will ALWAYS harm me!”