Within the extremely complex system of relations between the soul and the world of material substance as a whole-especially relations with its own body–the soul is able to reach far higher levels than it can in its abstract state of separate essence, in what is known as the paradisiacal state outside the body.
The process of the soul’s connection with the body-called the “descent of the soul into matter”–is, from a certain perspective, the soul’s profound tragedy.
But the soul undertakes this terrible risk as a part of the need to descend in order to make the desired ascent to hitherto unknown heights.
It is a risk and a danger, because the soul’s connection with the body and its contact with the material world where it is the only factor that is free-unbounded by the determinism of physical law and able to choose and move freely-make it possible for the soul to fall and, in falling, to destroy the world.
Indeed, Creation itself, and the creation of man, is precisely such a risk, a descent for the sake of ascension.
–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz