Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was justifiably proud when his son, Avner, won Israel’s National Bible Quiz in February 2010. That is a hard-fought annual contest, with very tough questions, and anyone who does not know the entire Bible, at least on a surface level, has zero chance of scoring a lucky win. Avner was fortunate to be tutored by his scholarly grandfather, the late Professor Netanyahu, who passed away in April 2012 at age 102.
What the Prime Minister surely never envisioned was that Israeli-American diplomacy would move beyond the Bible into a Talmudic debate over Mishnaic phrases taught by the Jewish prince and sage, Hillel. (The Talmud is divided into Mishna and Gemara. Mishna consists of concise phrases which review legal and moral conclusions derived from close study of the Bible. Gemara traces the Mishna principles back to their Biblical sources, then extrapolates from those principles to life situations.)