What Was Before the World?
Before the world there was G-d and His Name.
How Many Worlds?
You would think “world” means the earth, or if we want to be more inclusive, the greater universe.
That’s only one world.
And even though the worlds are generally divided into three levels: Creation, Formation, and Action (see table below), nevertheless the actual number of worlds is countless.
Well, “World” in Hebrew is “ עולם ” (Olam), sharing the same root as “ העלם ” (Heelem), which means concealment. And that’s what the world is about; concealing the Creator.
This concealment varies in intensity, from the beings in the highest worlds who constantly sense G-d’s reality to our material world, where even the existence of Gdliness is challengeable. That’s a huge disparity, each step of concealment being a world with a unique balance of
concealment/revelation. That pretty much makes the number of worlds countless (but there is still a number, although too great to count).
However in a deeper sense, the higher the world – the less the concealment and all the limits that come with it. Definitions become looser and looser as you get closer to what’s above the world, beyond time, and the flavor of infinity becomes more and more dominant. That’s where we find a truer meaning of countless worlds because counting is when you have something definitive and distinguishable, but when it doesn’t fit into a lexicon, it just doesn’t count...
Greater Than Infinity
Even the lower, more limited worlds get a sense of countlessness, and to a greater extent.
How? Well, G-d’s Commandments originate from above the world (infinity), yet they apply on this lowly earth.
By keeping them we are opening up a channel that draws down this origin, providing infinity to the lower worlds too.
But what comes down our way on earth from above the worlds is actually much greater than the taste of infinity experienced in the higher worlds. How come?
G-d ’s Commandments are His Will, and He and His Will are one.
So what you’re effectively drawing down into This World is not just infinite levels from above the world, but you get to host the Commander Himself.
(See below table for the difference between Gd Himself and infinity)
Hosting the Almighty Creator is quite a wow when you think about it, but there’s yet a greater context to it. It’s got to do with the purpose of Creation and the endstate of the world.
And how come we see none of that?
This World is all about concealment. It’s “closed for construction”. No revelations (especially in Exile times).
But wait for Moshiach, when construction is over and concealment is no longer...
The shell gives a false impression
Number of worlds is countless - Talmud Chagiga 13b. And see Tanya Ch. 46.
Commandments draw down infinity into This World - Likutei Torah, Balak, 70a.
G-d and His Commandments are one - See Tanya Ch. 40 and Mishne Torah of the Rambam, Laws of Foundations of the Torah, Ch. 2.
Commandments draw down G-d Himself - In Hebrew (mixed with Ancient Greek): אושפזיכן לגבורה; See Talmud Sota 36b and Tanya Ch. 34.