"Because G‑d, your G‑d, is testing you, to ascertain whether you really love G‑d, your G‑d, with all your heart and with all your soul." (Deut. 13:4)

The word for "testing" ('menase') also can be translated "elevating." Thus, this verse may be interpreted to mean, "G‑d tests a person in order to elevate him to a higher level of Divine knowledge."

Voices from both within and without may mock the sufferer’s naive belief.

A test –- whether of a person’s commitment to Judaism or of his faith in G‑d’s goodness – is a temporary concealment of the Divine favor that we assume should be shown to those who follow G‑d’s will. Voices from both within and without may mock the sufferer’s naive belief. However, the fact that G‑d’s presence is hidden in these situations simply indicates that He wishes to grace us with a closer, more intense relationship with Him than we are presently able to sustain. In order to preserve our faith in G‑d in the face of situations that test this faith, we have to draw upon deeper levels of commitment than we normally do.

When we do this, i.e. when we pass the test, the test disappears – its purpose having been served – and our formerly deep, hidden connection with G‑d becomes our normative consciousness.

In the terminology of Kabbalah, the sparks of Divinity inherent within tests originate in a higher level (of the world of Tohu) than do the sparks embedded within the rest of creation. Just as the brighter a light source, the thicker a veil that is needed to obscure its light, these sparks embody too much Divine energy to be clothed in the normal states of non-Divinity that make up most of this world; their intensity can only be expressed in commensurately intense states of Divine hiddenness. These sparks therefore are ensconced in situations and existential states that not only do not reveal G‑d’s hand but affrontingly deny it.

...involvement with the physical world...increases and enhances Divine consciousness in the world.

Of course, our day-to-day involvement with the physical world – elevating it into holiness by resisting its tendency to drag us into materiality on the one hand and using it as a means toward spiritual ends on the other – also increases and enhances Divine consciousness in the world. The difference however, is that while our routine refinement of reality requires us to summon our spiritual strength and so battle with our animal nature, convincing and cajoling it into Divine service, tests cannot be approached in this way. Rather, they require us to access far deeper powers, those of self-sacrifice and incontestable commitment to G‑d. Essentially, this means tapping the previously mentioned inner sight-consciousness of G‑d that each of us possesses in the merit of Moses’ prayer.

Inasmuch as attaining Divine consciousness, thereby making the world more of a home for G‑d, is the purpose of creation, it follows that moral tests serve a crucial function in bringing creation to its completion and fulfilling the purpose of the soul’s descent into the physical world.

Adapted from Likutei Sichot, vol. 9, pp. 286-287 and Sefer HaMaamarim 5708, pp. 94-103
© 2001 Chabad of California/www.LAchumash.org