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Mori* Michael-Shelomo Bar-Ron is a publishing Torah scholar. He is both a communicator of archaeology and science in general to Torah-observant and Torah-loving audiences, Jewish and non-Jewish, as well as a communicator of a broad-perspective, rational Torah view to secular audiences. He is a life-long student of Torah and science, particularly biblical archaeology, biological anthropology, and environmental science.
His Torah Background
His Orthodox Torah journey began in 1995 at Yeshivas Ohr Sameach, leading him to rabbinical training at Shehebar Sephardic Center in Jerusalem and years of tutelage under rabbis and scholars of Sephardic and Yemenite Maimonidean tradition, most notably HaRav Reuven Lev Tov and Mori Shelomo ben Avraham of Mechon Mamre, both of blessed memory.
His studies brought him to a fluency in TaNa”Kh (the Hebrew Bible), and a unique mastery of the encyclopedic code of Jewish halakhah, the Mishneh Torah of Maimonides, and areas of practical halakhah across the Shulḥan `Arukh of Rav Yosef Karo. For over a decade he gave classes in Mishneh Torah and Noahide halakhah.
Coupled with this is the unique knowledge he gained of oral tradition after studying several ancient Torah cultures in Israel.
His Secular Academic Background
What sets Mori Michael apart from other Torah educators is his secular education: a BA in Physical Anthropology with a minor in Judaic Studies from UC San Diego. Per his background in evolutionary biology, he might be the only orthodox-trained rabbi with a university education in Evolutionary Biology, giving him a unique ability to see the poorly-recognized synergy between both approaches to our creation. To this he adds a university background in world history, Bible criticism, and travels to archaeological sites in Israel, Egypt, Turkey, and Greece.
Together with his collaboration with his mentor, world-class Egyptologist and historian David Rohl, all under the academic supervision of his mentor Dr. Peter Van der Veen of the University of Mainz, this has all given him a rare grasp of scientific facts on the ground that enable him to answer educated doubters, critics and deniers on their own turf. The result is one of the academic rigorous systems of defense of core Torah truth anywhere.
His Own Cutting-Edge Academic Research
Besides a student of academia, Mori Bar-Ron has become, in recent years, a ground-breaking academic researcher in his own right: His new translations of Proto-Sinaitic inscriptions in the Sinai Desert have received critical support from academics, revealing them to be priceless relics from the periods of Israel's Sojourn, Slavery and Exodus.
Due to the widespread attention that his groundbreaking academic papers on these discoveries are now receiving -- Mori Bar-Ron has been a top-1% and top-.05% percent contributor to Academia.com several times over the last four years – it seems that his work is beginning to have an impact on how the Torah narrative is being treated in academic circles and educated society.
Published in what has been his most widely-read paper, Bar-Ron's stunningly intuitive interpretation of a cylinder seal impression he re-examined, found at Tell ed-Daba, strengthens the historicity of the biblical Joseph and several details in Genesis.
As news of his inscriptions work spread, Mori Michael was given appearances in two "Patterns of Evidence" films shown in theatres across the U.S. and Canada: "The Moses Controversy" and "The Search For Mt. Sinai Part II" (Thinking Man Films 2019 and 2022).
Most recently is his unpaid work as a consultant to the team that excavated and is now interpreting the "curse tablet" discovered on Mount Ebal. Although his contribution to the team is under wraps, their decision to take Mori Michael as a co-author for the final stage of the thesis speaks volumes on the value he is bringing to the discovery.
His quest to establish the deepest antiquity of the written Torah and oral Torah traditions, bringing him into a six-year study of the Northern-Israelite Torah heritage of the Samaritan community, is nearing its finish. The gems of wisdom and novel points of Torah insight gained from this work cannot be estimated.
What Fuels His Drive and Inspiration: a Love of Truth and What it Can Do for Faith
What drives Mori Bar-Ron is seeing how intelligent, believing Jews and non-Jews respond when they realize that they need not sacrifice their intellect for our Torah beliefs. Seeing how intelligent Torah solutions have literally saved people's faith and how that has positively impacted their lives.
Besides that is his relentless curiosity, his love of honest research, pursuing truth for its own sake, in search of “the Big Picture”. Having found new bridges of synergy between the worlds of Torah tradition and established science, and that after having had several of his "belief bubbles" burst in light of overwhelming evidence, he is simply intrigued by what lies waiting to be discovered, that can help us better understand the ancient past, besides Torah truth.
That can only happen when we do not we bring together basic faith -- benefit of the doubt to core traditions -- with a critical mindset: keeping it real, avoiding fantasy. Even during his more hardcore years, focused purely on his formal Torah education, Mori Bar-Ron's love for genuine science – and strong disdain for pseudoscience commonly embraced in religious circles – never waned.
The Growing Fruit of His Efforts
After years of maintaining this critical, balanced mindset as an understudy of scholars with opposing outlooks, Michael has found compelling answers and rational solutions to controversies that have helped many to return to and maintain their Torah observance. He maintains a growing virtual "Beit Midrash" community of active students worldwide, besides a subscriber base of thousands.
His books, Guide For the Noahide (Lightcatcher Books ©2009,2010), Oral Torah From Sinai (Lightcatcher Books ©2011), and Song of the Creator (Lightcatcher Books ©2015) have been hailed by rabbis and lay readers, Jews and non-Jews from around the globe, for elucidating in layman's terms the rational genius, deep antiquity, and breathtaking structure of Written Torah and oral tradition.
It is only in the last five years, that the focus of his research and teaching shifted back to academia. That is, since forging a tight partnership with his mentor, Egyptologist David Rohl and academic supervisor Dr. Peter Van der Veen. Recognizing his unique talent in the field of ancient Hebrew epigraphy (reading Proto-Sinaitic) and the importance of his insights to their own work, they undertook to help refine his scholarship and establish his research for the sake of academia and the lay public.
Bar-Ron's online courses and lecture tours, based on his work, have enthralled audiences world-wide. He has been interviewed on Cable TV, Arutz Sheva radio shows, and his writing published on their website. That besides the podcasts he has done for several media channels and personalities.
Now, his life work is rebranded under the new trademark, Big Picture Torah©. It emphasizes the broad, multidisciplinary view of his educational approach. That is, a focus on fostering broad-view, rationalist, science-wise Torah faith, authentic Jewish/Israelite identity, and the unbreakable ties and title of the People of Israel to the Land of Israel.
(* Mori Michael-Shelomo (pronounced “Mee-kha-el She-lo-mo”) prefers the title m’ori (מאורי), the humble title of the teachers of children in Yemen, over the title “rabbi.”)
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