We need to learn from the hackers. Especially the criminal ones—and plenty of the most nefarious, criminal acts today are hacks.

We need to learn from everyone. Like the Mishnah says, “Wanna know who’s really wise? The guy who can learn something from anybody!”

The Baal Shem Tov took that all the way. He taught that the darkest corners of the human soul must be mined for the sparks of the divine that are buried there. True to form, Zusia of Anipoli listed seven vital lessons he learned from a thief.

So, it makes sense that I should want to learn from the hackers. Because I need to become one. We all do. Because our destiny, and the destiny of all humanity, depends upon it.

What do we need to hack? We need to hack the cosmic code. It’s held securely behind a firewall in a multilayer encryption scheme that has defied the collaborative brainpower of all human beings that have ever lived. But we’re going to crack it. Soon.

Look at the progress we’ve made. Not just scientific progress—thanks to cosmic hackers such as Newton, Maxwell, Einstein and others who exposed an underlying unity behind the cosmos. But even more crucial, the code behind human consciousness and its interface with the unified consciousness that drives the entire cosmos. We need a commented, open-source version of the code that gets that consciousness continually re-emerging into existence, with an API to tap into it. We need it public.

There was a time when that code was the property of a recondite inner circle, who cloaked their wisdom in riddles and layered metaphor. Look, they had a concern: They tuned into that stuff with the wisdom of their hyper-receptive souls. But the guy off the street might believe he had grasped that which was not yet within the grasp of the meat-based human psyche. Which happened sometimes, with disastrous results. So it had to stay within an exclusive elite.

There was a time when that code was the property of a recondite inner circle. By now, we’re interfacing with huge chunks of core data.

Yet, as the cosmos entered its sixth phase, the hacking accelerated. By now, we’re interfacing with huge chunks of core data. Knowledge that would blow the minds of the early Kabbalists. It’s in our hands.

Almost. Because it won’t be truly in our hands until it is all flattened out. And that’s where today’s hackers come in.

I’ve got to explain what I just said. But to do that, I need to let you in on the history of the cosmic hackers. At least the basics.

Cracking the Sumerian Code

Abraham was the first hacker. He saw through the cosmic façade, the consistent parameters, standard features, ubiquity of pattern, and it hit him: There’s gotta be an algorithm beneath this, and behind the algorithm there’s gotta be a Programmer/Administrator who wrote that algorithm and stands behind it.

Abraham’s first target was the ancient Sumerian priestly IT cult. Their elite set of abbreviations and techno-lingo, impervious encryption schemes and multiple layers of user restrictions were a virtual stranglehold on the flow of data. Abraham quickly exposed their sham—only to discover that the data they held was itself corrupt. The truths they were hiding had been long forgotten even by those who were hiding it. Abraham knew he had to find the original code and crack it.

“The people cannot deal with the raw code,” lamented Shem. “They demand visible icons and tangible widgets with which they can interact.”

Finally, he discovered the exiled high priest, Shem, the son of Noah. Shem gave him a peek at some of that core code for which he had been searching. I can imagine Abraham’s reaction, the reaction of a true hacker. “You knew all this all along,” he exclaimed, “all that I had to figure out on my own—and so much more! And you held it for yourself!”

“The people cannot deal with the raw code,” lamented Shem. “They are mesmerized by the program, incapable of seeing beyond the very surface of the graphic user interface. They demand visible icons and tangible widgets with which they can interact. They seek to reside within a world of consistent metaphor, and allow themselves to believe that the metaphor itself is the base reality—as though the multiple voices that respond to their requests are those of sentient beings acting on their own volition, and messages actually make swish sounds because they are moving so fast. We know more, we see the singularity that lies beneath it all, the program and the Programmer within, and how the Programmer and His program are one. They feel they cannot handle this, and the admins are fearful lest they tamper with the code, drain the resources of customer support, and bring down the System.”

But Abraham was neither convinced nor dissuaded. He persisted in smashing those icons, defying those priests of esoteric information, and declaring to the world, “There is a Programmer behind the System! There is a oneness that unifies all this code, an exquisite elegance of purpose and meaning! The Programmer is the Administrator! He is the User, He is the Code and He is the Author of the Code—and He is accessible! The code is within our grasp! It belongs to each one of us. Come, let us hack together!”

Deep Hacking

Abraham succeeded, for a time. But when his descendants went down to Egypt land, they were swallowed into the most entrenched IT fortress on earth.

Egypt was all about power protocols. Pyramids. Centralized data. Hyper-encryption. Lockdown.

Pharaoh and his staff made the cult of Ur look like chocolate cake. He and his technobureaucrats held the private key to the secret knowledge locked behind a sealed lead wall, encrypted and encoded in glyphs that only the initiated could hope to decipher. Their subordinates knew only what they needed to know. The masses at the base of the pyramid wallowed in illiterate ignorance—just as Pharaoh wanted them to be. Because Pharaoh knew that knowledge is power. And the last thing he wanted was power to the people.

Moses had an advantage: He had grown up in Pharaoh’s palace. Who knows, perhaps there he was privy to keys to their secret knowledge. At the same time, from his father, Amram, he received the pure knowledge of a single Programmer/Admin passed down from Abraham.1

Then came the day that Moses received instructions from the Cosmic Programmer Himself. But Pharaoh denied that the Programmer continued to act as Administrator and User. At times, He even claimed that he had written the code himself, and so it was in his hands to manipulate as he pleased.

That’s why, in Egypt, it wasn’t enough to announce there is a Programmer. Moses had to demonstrate user events and system interrupts. Major, invasive events and interrupts that only a high-level Administrator who had access to the core parameters of the System could perform. In other words, events straight from the Programmer Himself. And sure enough, these events wreaked havoc throughout the entire System, bringing it to the brink of total collapse.

But that was only an introduction. Moses’ greatest achievement was the biggest hack in history.

Distributed Processing

Moses’ greatest achievement was the biggest hack in history.

Moses had already pierced the heavenly firewall and glimpsed into the cosmic microcode. But, for him, that didn’t feel right. It meant he had knowledge that others could not access. To Moses, knowledge was freedom, and freedom was his life’s mission. If people were to be free, knowledge had to be liberated.

Moses had the Cosmic Programmer on his side. At Sinai, the initial plan was that G‑d would interface with Moses, and the user-client base (a.k.a. the people) would audit the event. But these were the children of Abraham and students of Moses. They demanded, “We want to see our Programmer and hear from Him directly!”2

That was just what Moses wanted to hear. Moses didn’t want to be just another of those prophets who peeks behind the firewall and then tells everyone else what he just saw. Everyone had to share his experience. Everyone had to interface directly with the Programmer/Admin, as he had. Without that, he had not achieved his goal.

The response from the Programmer Himself was immediate and positive. Until that point, the Programmer had never directly entered into the System. Just to get a small parameter adjustment, the sentient beings had to transcend their world. Now, that protocol was to be broken. Everything, the entirety of the cosmic code, would be exposed to all the people, as the Programmer Himself entered within the world that He sustained.

It was a mind-blowing achievement. And, for that very reason, of limited success. Moses had greatly overestimated the capacity of the human psyche with which he was dealing. After two massive surges of raw data—beginning with the base code that set the parameters for all things—the people’s brains were fried. Whether he liked it or not, Moses ended up as the middleman.

Nevertheless, he continued in what could only be called a reckless path of “data for the people.” It was unprecedented. Nobody had imagined running a nation this way, and nobody would again for thousands of years. In the Moses/G‑d partnership view of things, everyone had to be literate. Everyone had to not only access all available code, but teach it to others, as well.

Perhaps the most radical release of the Five Books of Moses series was the Book of Leviticus—the ultimate in-your-face spurning of the priestly caste of Egypt. For the Children of Israel, things were going to be way different. All the priestly rites, all their laws of ritual purity and impurity, the Temple offerings—everything was there in black and parchment for any five-year-old kid to see.

Yes, knowledge is power, and so the more distributed the data—and the data processing—the more stable the power base.

Moses didn’t stop at distributing data alone. He personally sat and taught the people to process that data, to extract knowledge from the raw code and create new functions and applications from them. Yes, knowledge is power, and so the more distributed the data—and the data processing—the more stable the power base.

Yet, with all this, the pyramid protocol was not entirely flattened. The interface between the people and the Programmer had failed multiple times. Which meant that the ultimate source had not yet been tapped. Moses knew that. He knew that if, and only if, he could connect the people directly with the inner mind of the Programmer, only then could he truly transform their world. He knew that the Programmer had to be found within the minds and hearts of each of His creations. The interface was there, but it had to become transparent.

What was missing from Moses’ great hack? Information. Data is not information. To make data into information, you need a grasp of the function that data serves. “Why weren’t the reasons for the Torah revealed?” ask the sages of the Talmud.3 Why? Because that’s something that can’t be revealed top-down. That can only be discovered by hacking from the bottom up. The people had to discover it for themselves.

Which is what the next 3300 years were all about.

Where We Are Now

As all cosmic hackers know, the System has six phases. Abraham appeared at the dawn of the third phase, and Moses was active at its apex. We are currently in the last quarter of the sixth phase.

It was when this final phase began that the protocol began its flattening, moving towards what we could call open-source. It was one-third of the way through the phase that the Holy Ari revealed the inner secrets of the code. It was at the halfway point that the Baal Shem Tov began to distribute those inner secrets to the masses. Within fifty years, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi had released a lucid interface with the divine for the mainstream market. And at noon of the sixth phase, the distribution apparatus became widely available for download, as the System was primed for its ultimate fulfillment.

. . . in essence, we are all hackers, and in that hacking lies our fulfillment and our destiny.

The information is there. What’s left for us is to upgrade that interface, to get it out there, and to convince the world that in essence we are all hackers, and in that hacking lies our fulfillment and our destiny.

That’s what I meant by “flattened”: When the everyday world of every Joe, Jing, Akhbar and Mariyasha off the street becomes a transparent interface with the Programmer/Administrator/User of the System, only then will we know that we’ve got to the core of reality.

Time is running out. By the end of the sixth phase, the System is in for a total revamping. Before that happens, we need to get the current System running the way it was meant to run. The liberation of all humanity depends upon us.

So, we’ve all got to learn from the hackers. And here are seven things I learned:

  1. The hacker does all he can to remain anonymous. He’s not after notoriety, he’s after success.
  2. The hacker gives it his all, without any expectation of compensation.
  3. The hacker shares knowledge and collaborates with others, knowing that this way everyone gains.
  4. The hacker sees vividly in the code all that can emerge from it.
  5. Invertedly, the hacker sees deep beneath the artifacts that appear on the screen, into the raw machine code from which they emerge.
  6. The hacker works tirelessly, with little regard for his personal safety.
  7. Tzvi Freeman is not as smart as Zusia of Anipoli. (He got seven; I got six.)

I want you to pay special attention to #4 and #5. Those are crucial. Before you go, lemme quickly explain:

The hacker scrolls through a screen of 0s and 1s, but he doesn’t see binary 0s and 1s. He sees the instructions those binaries are feeding the CPU, and how those instructions build as functions, commands, objects—a living program emerging out of nothingness.

So, too, the cosmic hacker. He studies the work of his teachers: brilliant, hypersubtle metaphor built upon generations of accumulated knowledge. But he sees way past the metaphor, into the light it contains, and how that light becomes the world in which he lives. And that’s what he distributes.

If he doesn’t find the relevance, and he distributes irrelevant data, he’s not just a bad hacker; he’s a criminal. That’s what makes criminal hacking so nefarious—they are providing people with data that doesn’t belong in their lives. It belongs to someone else, in another place, at another time. But not here now. And that’s a criminal cosmic hacker, as well: someone who puts out data about angels and higher worlds just because it’s cool stuff and he gets off on it.

There was a Jew who wrote to Rabbi Yosef Yitzchaak, the sixth rebbe of Chabad, and asked him to explain something about certain angels mentioned in Kabbalah. The rabbi wrote back, saying that he would not answer this question, “because it has nothing to do with the job your particular soul was given in this world.”

But there’s an awful lot that’s very relevant to the job our souls are given in this world. Crucial data. And that belongs rightfully to us. So we all need to be hackers to access that data, make it relevant, and apply it.

That’s #4. In #5, the hacker sees the reverse—the algorithm within the program. The cosmic hacker does the same: He looks out there at the world in which he lives, and within which all those around him live, and he doesn’t see just rocks and trees and sky and concrete and steel and emotions and personalities and stuff-that-just-happens. He sees code, deep code. Well-commented code, revealing the structure and purpose of every function, command, behavior and object. He sees the Programmer Himself within His program.

Why? Because it matters to him. Because, like Abraham, like Moses, this is his entire being. And when it matters to you, you get it, all of it.

That’s how he hacks. That’s what he communicates to others. Look, if he’s going to tell the public, “There’s a World of Emanation, a World of Creation . . . ten sefirot, five partzufim . . .”—he might as well stay in his cave with Shem, son of Noah. Crack the code. Tell us what it means. Tell us what it means to us, and why we should care. Make it real.

That’s a hacker. And some of the most heroic acts of history, the greatest acts of liberation, were hacks.

Inspired by a talk of the Rebbe on Shevat 10, 5743 (January 24, 1983).