Lovely, Alamo-Girl! You've spoken of this before, and I'm glad you mention it again in the context of this thread.
Only Neshamah can respond to the divine "pull," or to the golden cords of our nature, as Plato put it in his myth. Only Neshamah can "resonate" with the Rauch, the Spirit (or Breath) of God. Only Neshamah can give us a felt sense of our common humanity with other men, the only source of human fellow feeling, of pity, of mercy.
But here's a little taste of what Nephesh can do -- when animal nature is given free rein and dissolves itself into the frenzy of the mob:
BELIEVE ME, SIR, those who attempt to level, never equalize. In all societies, consisting of various descriptions of citizens, some description must be uppermost. The levelers, therefore, only change and pervert the natural order of things; they load the edifice of society by setting up in the air what the solidity of the structure requires to be on the ground .
The [French Revolutionary National] Assembly, their organ, acts before them the farce of deliberation with as little decency as liberty. They act like the comedians of a fair before a riotous audience; they act amidst the tumultuous cries of a mixed mob of ferocious men, and of women lost to shame, who, according to their insolent fancies, direct, control, applaud, explode them, and sometimes mix and take their seats amongst them, domineering over them with a strange mixture of servile petulance and proud, presumptuous authority. As they have inverted order in all things, the gallery is in the place of the house. This assembly, which overthrows kings and kingdoms, has not even the physiognomy and aspect of a grave legislative body -- nec color imperii, nec frons ulla senatus. They have a power given to them, like that of the evil principle, to subvert and destroy, but none to construct, except such machines as may be fitted for further subversion and further destruction .
But history, who keeps a durable record of all our acts and exercises her awful censure over the proceedings of all sorts of sovereigns, will not forget either those events or the era of this liberal refinement in the intercourse of mankind. History will record that on the morning of the 6th of October, 1789, the king and queen of France, after a day of confusion, alarm, dismay, and slaughter, lay down, under the pledged security of public faith, to indulge nature in a few hours of respite and troubled, melancholy repose. From this sleep the queen was first startled by the sentinel at her door, who cried out to her to save herself by flight -- that this was the last proof of fidelity he could give -- that they were upon him, and he was dead. Instantly he was cut down. A band of cruel ruffians and assassins, reeking with his blood, rushed into the chamber of the queen and pierced with a hundred strokes of bayonets and poniards the bed, from whence this persecuted woman had but just time to fly almost naked, and, through ways unknown to the murderers, had escaped to seek refuge at the feet of a king and husband not secure of his own life for a moment.
This king, to say no more of him, and this queen, and their infant children (who once would have been the pride and hope of a great and generous people) were then forced to abandon the sanctuary of the most splendid palace in the world, which they left swimming in blood, polluted by massacre and strewed with scattered limbs and mutilated carcasses. Thence they were conducted into the capital of their kingdom.
Two had been selected from the unprovoked, unresisted, promiscuous slaughter, which was made of the gentlemen of birth and family who composed the kings body guard. These two gentlemen, with all the parade of an execution of justice, were cruelly and publicly dragged to the block and beheaded in the great court of the palace. Their heads were stuck upon spears and led the procession, whilst the royal captives who followed in the train were slowly moved along, amidst the horrid yells, and shrilling screams, and frantic dances, and infamous contumelies, and all the unutterable abominations of the furies of hell in the abused shape of the vilest of women. After they had been made to taste, drop by drop, more than the bitterness of death in the slow torture of a journey of twelve miles, protracted to six hours, they were, under a guard composed of those very soldiers who had thus conducted them through this famous triumph, lodged in one of the old palaces of Paris, now converted into a bastille for kings.
-- Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France.
How any human being on the face of the earth, at any time in human history, could ever suppose that such horrific acts can be the precursor of some genuine, real human good is beyond all understanding. And yet, supposedly, the Parisian mob entertained just this idea.
I note with dismay the "rent-a-mobs" of our own time....
How any human being on the face of the earth, at any time in human history, could ever suppose that such horrific acts can be the precursor of some genuine, real human good is beyond all understanding.
Indeed. I assert it is beyond all understanding because the nephesh never understands, it only gratifies. I also join in your dismay at the "rent-a-mobs" of our own time.
IMHO, the best hope lies in speaking to the neshamah. And that is very difficult in these times, as much of mankind particularly many of the intellectual elite - are delusional. They have silenced their neshamah by declaring that the physical realm is all that there is; that the conscious is but an impertinent physical phenomenon; and therefore, the end (or objective) always justifies the means.