Answer: This always depends on the person. We need to realize that the four levels of nature – the still, vegetative, animate, and speaking – exist by means of the Light that pours on the desire. Out of these four types of the desire, only the speaking (human) level is able to purposefully respond to the Light.
As the desire grows, the Kli (vessel) begins to feel how it does not correspond to the Light. Nature suffers on all of its levels due to a lack of adhesion and an inability to reach it, and, naturally, man suffers the most. First of all, his desire is bigger and more susceptible, but most importantly, the end of the string is in his hands. He has the ability to go towards adhesion and pull the rest of the levels after him.
The suffering of the human degree gradually brings us to the realization of choice. And once man begins to understand that the problems are caused by his inactivity, it will be possible to speak about reward and punishment. Everything that previously happened does not play a part in this because the true categories of reward and punishment always correspond to the goal: the correction.
Man begins to understand that the Upper Governance operates in the world and uses reward and punishment in order to correctly direct him towards the goal and teach him through positive and negative consequences, just like parents teach their children in our world. Then everything that happens acquires a purpose in my eyes. Punishment, just like reward, is a correction, and the way I accept it depends on me.
However, I will only be able to accept it correctly in a group, the place where the Upper Governance needs to be realized. Reward and punishment are inseparably connected to my participation in the group, the mutual guarantee. I scrutinize reward and punishment as precisely as possible and relate to them the same way: I need them both in order to keep correcting the course time after time. Essentially, they are both rewards.
At the end we discover a simple thing: There is no punishment, and every state is given for the purpose of using it to the fullest extent in order to come closer to the Light.
From the 1st part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 10/21/10, “I Am the First and I Am the Last”