“Israel is the kernel of the world; Israel arose in thought. Other nations, who are the קְלִפָּה shell, preceded, as is written: אֵלֶּה these, are the kings who reigned in the land of Edom before any king reigned over the Children of Israel [Genesis 36:31]” (Sifra di-Tsni’uta, Zohar 2:108b).
“אֵלֶּה these, are the generations of the heaven and the earth [Genesis 2:4]. It has been established that wherever it is written: אֵלֶּה these, cancels that which was mentioned before [Bereshit Rabbah 30:3]. So the use of the word אֵלֶּה [conceals] the generations of formlessness hinted at in the verse: And the earth was without form [Genesis 1:2]. In reference to those [generations of formlessness] it is said that the blessed Holy One created worlds and destroyed them [cf. Bereshit Rabbah 3:7]. Thus, it is written: The earth was without form and void [Genesis 1:2]. Why did the blessed Holy One create worlds if He intended to destroy them? It would have been better had he not created them at all! But this is certainly a mystery. What is the meaning of ‘He destroyed them?’ It cannot be that the blessed Holy One destroyed the makings of His own hands. Furthermore, these are the heavens about which it is said, for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke [Isaiah 51:6]. If it is so, then the blessed Holy One first created and then destroyed.
The secret is that the blessed Holy One created the world by the Torah, as it is written: In the beginning [Genesis 1:1] about which is written: YHWH created me as the beginning of His way [Proverbs 8:22]. And by this beginning He created the [supernal] heavens and the earth [i.e. the six sefirot whose creation are hinted at by one permutation of בראשית, In the beginning, namely ברא שית, created six]. He sustained them with the covenant which is in ברית אש] בראשית ‘covenant of fire’] as it is written: If My covenant were not day and night, it is as if I have not established the ordinances of heaven and earth [Jeremiah 33:25]. These are: The heavens are the heavens of YHWH [Psalms 115:16]. And the land of the living comprises seven lands, about which King David wrote, I will walk before YHWH in the lands of the living [Psalms 116:9].
After He created the heavens and the earth upon formlessness, without any foundation – which is the covenant – to support them [cf. Job 26:7]. Because of this the blessed Holy One, wanted to give Torah, which is the covenant of circumcision, to the nations of the world but because they did not want to receive it the land remained parched and dry [cf. BT Avodah Zarah 2b, Sifre Deuteronomy 33:2]. Thus: Let the waters under heaven be gathered together to one place, and let the dry land appear [Genesis 1:9]. Waters – Torah. To one place – Israel because the souls of Israel come from that Place, about which it is written: Blessed be the glory of YHWH from His place [Ezekiel 3:12]… The Torah designates the civilized world. The nations of the world who did not accept it have remained wasted and dry. This is [the meaning of] ‘the blessed Holy One created worlds and destroyed them,’ those who did not maintain the precepts of Torah. It does not mean He shattered His own makings as people may presume. Why should He destroy His own children about whom it is written: When they were בְּהִבָּרְאָם, created [Genesis 2:4]. בְּהִבָּרְאָם - [instead read:] ב ה בראם ‘He created them with [the letter] ה [which is written especially small in Genesis 2:4, cf. Bereshit Rabbah 12:9].’ Because of those converts from among the nations of the world the small letter ה of Abraham fell during the fifth millennium. [And the river was wasted and dried up (Isaiah 19:5):] Wasted – the First Temple, dried up – the Second Temple.
Moses wanted to bring the proselytes [the motley throng] under the wings of the Shekhinah and presumed that they too were drawn down from the ה. Thus he caused the fall of the ה of אַבְרָהָם, Abraham. This brought upon him descent, as it is written: Go, get you down, for your people… have become corrupt [Exodus 32:7]. They did not receive the small ה with awe of the letter י and with the love of the [first] ה. So he fell from his rung, which is the letter ו” (Tiqqunei ha-Zohar).