[Herein lies] a lesson for every Jew: When he commits a sin in a literal sense, the sin is against G‑d’s will. Nevertheless, he must realize that from an inner standpoint (even at the time of the sin), he is in the midst of a process of continuous ascent.

To explain the above (at least in brief): One of the fundamental principles of faith (even according to the legal tradition of Nigleh1 ) is that G‑d is the sole Master of all existence. Aside from Him, no other entity has any dominion [or independent authority]. All the stars and the spheres2 — and even the angels — are merely “an ax in the hand of the chopper,”3 functioning only “according to the will and command of G‑d.”4

This also applies to every individual. Everything that a person does, even those matters which affect the Torah and its mitzvos (which, with regard to them, he has been granted free choice), are dependent on G‑d’s providence5 and His will.6

Based on the above, it is clear that even the descents that the world at large and every individual person experiences, and that come as a result of man’s deeds performed according to his own free will, are still dependent on G‑d’s providence. Accordingly, [it is also evident that] they lead to a [positive] purpose. Hence even these descents can be seen as phases in [the accomplishment of] this purpose.

No Place for Despair

Unquestionably, the actual performance of a sin is against G‑d’s will.7 Nevertheless, the descent — in the world and within the person — which comes as a consequence of the sin is not contrary to G‑d’s will.8 And thus it is not a true descent, but rather a phase in the ascent which comes about through it….

Regardless of the nature of the situation in which a Jew is found, even if he is in a very lowly and degrading situation, and even if he himself chose to bring himself to this abject state through choosing evil, [he should maintain a positive perspective].

[Certainly,] because “he caused himself a loss…it is appropriate for him to cry and lament his sins and the evil which he brought upon his soul.”9 And yet, the person should not despair and think that all hope is lost for him. For since the situation to which he brought himself came about not only because of his own choice, but because of G‑d’s providence, it will ultimately lead him (— through teshuvah —) to an extremely elevated rung.10 Through teshuvah, he will be able to elevate even the sparks of holiness that are found within his willful transgressions and transform them into merits.11

The sins themselves cannot be elevated; on the contrary, “their destruction12 is their rectification.”13 With regard to the person’s own situation, however, he must realize that through the sin, he has been granted the opportunity (in an inward manner which is not overtly revealed) to achieve an ascent. For he has the potential [to do teshuvah] — and [since] he has been assured that “None who are estranged will remain [permanently] banished from Him,”14 he will certainly actualize that potential. In doing so, he [will] elevate the sparks of holiness found within these purposeful sins, transforming them into merits which surpass the merits of the tzaddikim.

(Adapted from Sichos Shabbos Parshas Chayei Sarah, 5713, 5725, Chag HaShavuos, 5721)