Some people are truly exceptional. So exceptional that they may indeed be the best in their particular field, be that Torah, medicine, or household management. However, the Chofetz Chaim tells us that no one can “have it all”. We need to rely on others to achieve true perfection. Chazal tell us that we can see this fact when the Torah tells us that Moshe and Aharon were “equal”. Where they truly equal? No. But in the way that Moshe excelled in din, Aharon excelled equally in Shalom – though at the same time, each of them paled compared to the others particular aspect of greatness.
The story is told of Reb Meir from Premishlan, a great Hassidic Rebbe who happened to once be in the same town as Reb Shloime Eiger, a strong misnagid to chasidus. The two tzaddikim met and were in private discussion for quite some time. Afterwards, Reb Meir saw that his Hassidim were curious as to the nature of the conversation. To answer them, he quoted the pasuk from this week’s parsha:
“But Malchizedek, king of Salem, brought forth bread and wine; and he was priest of G-d the Most High.” (Bereishis 14:18)
It seems that the Torah should have written the fact that he “brought forth bread and wine” at the very end of the sentence after introducing who Melchizedek was. Reb Meir explains that Avraham Avinu was the pillar of Chesed. Chazal tell us that Melchizedek was Shem, the son of Noach, who ran a Yeshiva which was the premier place of learning for many generations. Both Yitzchak and Yaakov learned there. When Melchizedek and Avraham met, they each tried to learn from their peer’s point of excellence. Therefore, Melchizedek brought forth bread and wine to do chesed as Avraham would do; the phrase at the end therefore does not refer back to Melchizedek, but instead the Hebrew word “hoo” refers to Avraham, who learned from Melchizedek to be a priest to G-d.
We must take to heart that as good as we are, there are areas in which others can teach us a thing or two. Let us follow the example of our Forefather Avraham, for as great as he was, understood the importance of learning from others. “Who is a Chacham? He who learns from all men.” (Avos 4:1)