Saturday, May 10, 2014

Live Long And Prosper...!

Every so often, a phrase or symbol turns up in our lives and stays around for what seems to be forever!

I'll just bet that even the folks that haven't seen too many Star Trek shows know the sign made famous by Spock. Today I'm going to show you the history of this sign. Just one more bit of trivia that could come in handy someday!

The Vulcan Salute Was Adapted From A Jewish Ritual
By Debra Kelly on Monday, May 5, 2014

Even if you’re not a Star Trek fan, you’re familiar with the Vulcan salute. It’s one of those gestures that seems to be rooted in our consciousness, and with good reason. The gesture, ad-libbed by Leonard Nimoy during the filming of the episode “Amok Time,” is a Jewish gesture signifying the letter “shin,” the first letter in the name of God.

You don’t have to be a Trekkie to be familiar with the Vulcan salute. It’s just one of those things that everyone knows where it’s from, even if they don’t know the canon lore behind it. And even for those who do know that it’s a traditional Vulcan greeting, they still might not know the long history of it.

“Amok Time” is one of the most well-known episodes in classic Star Trek history. As a quick recap, it’s the story of Spock’s journey back home to marry and mate. It was the first time showing Spock’s home world, and viewers got a more in-depth look at the Vulcan culture than what had previously been shown.

It was Leonard Nimoy who came up with the gesture, on the set while they were filming the episode. During the scene where Spock meets the official that will be presiding over his wedding, he felt that there was something missing. Humans have a number of symbolic gestures that we’ve done over the years when we’re greeting each other—there are handshakes and bows, curtsies and hugs. Nimoy felt that a similar yet alien greeting was needed for the Vulcan, and he knew that it couldn’t involve touching. (To a race that was touch-telepathic, that just wouldn’t have been done.)

So he modified a gesture that he had first seen in a synagogue when he was a child. He recalls not being old enough to know what was happening and why things were being done, but he does remember being old enough that he didn’t listen to his father’s instructions not to look at the people conducting the blessing.

The original gesture was made with both hands held out over the congregation and was performed by kohanim, or the descendants of ancient Jewish priests. When done correctly, the hands form the letter “shin,” which is meant to be the first letter of God’s name.

There’s some mystery surrounding the gesture, and those who do as they’re supposed to shouldn’t be looking at the people performing the blessing. According to Nimoy, members of the congregation are not supposed to look at those standing before the congregation, repeating the blessing; as they are channeling the feminine spirit of God and the light could be damaging to those who look upon them (although alternate reasons for not looking include the idea that blessings are coming from God, not from a human individual, and it’s easier to concentrate on that when you’re not looking at the people speaking).

Little Leonard didn’t listen to his father, though, and peeked. He became enamored with the gesture, and later, would amend it to the gesture we all know as the Vulcan salute. The gesture ended up being an appropriate one, a blessing designed to spread peace from God to man, now known more popularly as an invitation to “live long and prosper.”

Nimoy also thinks that Gene Roddenberry wasn’t aware of the salute’s Jewish origins, or would have protested having something so deeply religious associated with the show. For years, rumor had it that the Vulcan salute was a version of the peace symbol, and Nimoy was content to leave it at that.

Thanks to the folks over at KnowledgeNuts for passing that on to all of us. I'm all in favor of anything that can be recognized as a blessing. Lord knows, we all could use one from time to time! Right?

Coffee in the kitchen again this morning. Looks like a little more rain headed this way!


Mamahen said...

Thank you for passing that on! Hubby is a Trekkie but I bet he didn't know that, tho you can bet i'll ask him when he wake lol...I'll meet everyone in the kitchen... :))

Anonymous said...

How interesting!

Yes we all know that symbol even those that don't know anything about Star Treck. Thanks for this interesting facts!

Have a great day!

Dizzy-Dick said...

I watched and liked the old Star Trek, and have seen that sign used often by Spock, but until today, didn't know the origin of it. Thanks again for an enlightening blog and "Live long and prosper".

Sixbears said...

I had no idea. Guess I'll have to turn in Geek card.

Chickenmom said...

Thanks for that, Mr. Hermit! I bet a lot of people didn't know that - you find such interesting thing for us!
Foggy here and rain later today.

JO said...

Wasn't a fan so I had no idea but an interesting fact non the less.

Your garden must be very happy to have the rain.

I'll join in the kitchen with you all.

jes b said...

That's very interesting. Not a trekkie, but have used the spock salute for a long time and may use it more now. I enjoy your blog, always such interesting information.

HermitJim said...

Hey Mamahen...
Many didn't know this, including me! Hope the DH is surprised!

Thanks for coming over this morning!

Hey Christer...
Glad you found the post interesting!

I appreciate you coming over this morning!

Hey Dizzy...
Amazing all the information you can find out on the web!

Thanks, my friend, for coming over today!

Hey Sixbears...
Don't worry...I won't tell anyone!

Thanks for coming over today!

Hey Phyllis...
I don't believe it was common knowledge. I sure didn't know.

Thanks for stopping by today!

Hey Jo...
We do need the rain, for sure. I just hope it doesn't try and come all at once!

Thanks, sweetie, for dropping in this morning!

Hey Jes...
I imagine a lot of folks are in the same boat. Nice to find out it's actually for something good, and not the Vulcan version of "flipping the bird!"

Thanks for dropping in today!