G‑d is my cheerleader.

As I go through my day, I believe that G‑d is counting on me, urging me to make good choices, because—more than anyone—G‑d knows I have the strength to do the right thing.

Sure, G‑d presents me with moral struggles, but as a rule, He doesn’t set me up for failure.

But it has happened.

Yes. I know of one occasion on which G‑d presented us with a test which He knew we would fail.

And, strange as it may sound, it was actually done out of Divine love . . . But let me start at the beginning.

The Jews were liberated from Egypt, and then spent seven weeks of introspective self-betterment to prepare themselves for receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai.

The Jews perceived the world’s Divine purpose with unparalleled clarityWhen they finally gathered at Sinai, they were in an elevated frame of mind, spiritually evolved, and prepared for the most incredible event in all of history: G‑d’s giving of the Torah.

It was an incredibly real experience. The Jews perceived the world’s Divine purpose with unparalleled clarity, and genuinely embraced the Divine.

But that’s what makes it so difficult to understand what happened next. A mere forty days after the Great Experience, the Jews collaborated to fashion a Golden Calf, saying, “This is your god, O Israel . . . who brought you up from Egypt.”

Sounds insane.

After such an interface with the Divine, how could they have transferred their loyalty to an idol?

It’s an age-old question, and the Talmud responds by telling us that the Jews were, in fact, above this unseemliness. They shouldn’t have made that mistake.

So what happened?

G‑d set them up. G‑d gave them the “perfect storm,” bringing together a precise collusion of human weakness and incredibly alluring self-interest so that they would make the wrong choice.

It was a set-up.

But the critical question is: why?

Because they needed to taste failure, and they needed to experience the beauty that comes from turning failure into growth. It was the only way to complete the Sinai experience.

They needed to experience the beauty that comes from turning failure into growthWhen G‑d gave us the Torah, He was giving us a picture of reality as it is meant to be. To me, the Torah is like the top of a jigsaw puzzle box. It gives you a vision that helps you put life’s objects and experiences—the “puzzle pieces”—in their respective places.

We got that at Sinai. But we needed a crucial element to bring real meaning to the picture.

The experience of failure. And the experience of choosing to grow from our mistakes.

Because Torah is life.

And that’s life.