Now since the main remedy lies in the hand of man and not in the hand of the Angels, we can be certain that he is the essence of the whole of creation and infer that this alone is the purpose for which man was created, and the activity to which he should devote himself.

So it was from the very beginning when God, “placed him in the Garden of Eden to cultivate it and guard it (Genesis 2:15),” which our Sieges of blessed memory explained as referring to the positive and negative commandments. They were all to be performed in this state of rest, without inward strife, as our Sages deduced from the root of the word meaning, “And He placed him.” Only after man had sinned was he to walk along two paths after two different guides, as our Sages put it: “woe unto me from my Creator, woe unto me from my impulse (Berachot 61a).”

It is clear to you, then, that whatever man does in God’s service, he does for the purpose for which the Creator created him; everything else is done in obedience to the accusing Serpent, which delights in his absorption in other matters, with a view to keeping distant from his Creator by distracting him from His service.

Man was punished by having to endure this state of affairs, as we see from, “and you shall serve other gods (Devarim 11:16),” for man is led along the path which he wishes to walk, and since he originally chose to listen to the Serpent, the verdict pronounced on him was that he should not be free from its yoke but bear it as long as it is decreed upon him. This decree, “By the sweat of your brow shall you eat bread (Genesis 3:19),” represents the worst of all forms of torment for the soul whose longing is still for its Source. (Ramchal; Derech Eitz Hachaim XIV)

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