The breastplate of the Kohel Gadol (High Priest) contained twelve precious stones, each engraved with the name of a different tribe (28:21). Why were the stones engraved with names of the tribes rather than the names of the three patriarchs or four matriarchs? Would they not have provided even more merit?
The Kedushat Levi suggests that because Kohanim were chosen to represent the nation, other tribes may have felt somewhat diminished or secondary. To protect against any potential feelings of diminished significance, all the tribes were represented equally on the Kohen’s breastplate. This action emphasizes the sensitivity G-d has for the possibility of feeling slighted and so we, too, should always look to avoid misunderstandings, even when unwarranted or unintended.