One should ponder why it is that the Torah commands us to learn whenever possible under any circumstance. This may be understood with a parable of a great king who sits in his palace sharing his endless riches with his beloved family. One day, he chose to send his son to a far-off land where he would have to mingle with coarse people, wearing their simple clothes and eating foods to which he was not accustomed. Clearly the king would not have chosen to do such a thing if not for an important mission, to bring back valuable jewels that are plentiful in that place and can be collected there freely. His son could thus come back a wealthy man on his own right and would be held in high esteem.
This parable demonstrates how the neshama of a Jew is taken from under the Heavenly throne where it was basking in the Divine light. Since all Jews are beloved sons of the endlessly benevolent Almighty who wants to benefit us especially, it is surprising that He sent our neshama all the way down to this material world where it has to dwell in an animate clod of earth and eat physical food not befitting it. Obviously, there must be a very special mission for us to accomplish here. Before the neshama came down to this world it was basking in Divine pleasure, but as a passive, unworthy recipient. Receiving undeserved pleasure comes with an element of humiliation, and G-d wanted to spare us this discomfort. He thus saw fit to send us to toil in Torah and mitzvas in a world estranged from holiness where His presence is hidden. Only through learning Torah and performing mitzvas in such a hostile environment can we gain true merit with which to return to the world of eternal pleasure.