Tuesday, April 20, 2010

"Live long and prosper."

“Live long and prosper.”

- Vulcan greeting as used by Mr Spock in Star Trek, delivered with the fingers formed into a V shape.

Vulcan or Jewish?

Leonard Nimoy, who played Spock, has been a devout Jew his entire life. In an adlib while filming, he made the above hand sign and spoke the words “Live long and prosper”, which is in fact a benediction which rabbis give over their congregations. The rabbi's hand gesture accompanying the blessing  is representative of the Hebrew letter Shin, which begins the word Shadai, one of God's sacred names.

In the Jewish blessing, the sign is made with both hands with the arms outstretched, and the palms facing downwards:

Nimoy modified it into an upright one handed salute.

Nimoy used it for the episode “Amok Time” which opened the second season. In that episode he feels the call to go back to his home planet to mate with his betrothed bride. The script called for Vulcans to greet each other by touching each other’s shoulders but Nimoy felt this was inappropriate in that Vulcans are touch-telepaths (remember the Vulcan mind meld?). Nimoy drew upon his own Jewish background to suggest the salute.

He did not explain its derivation at the time. The series creator, Gene Roddenberry, probably thought it was a variation on the two finger peace sign popular with hippies at the time the series was being made, the sixties. Many thought this of the salute at the time.

Final note:

In the Vulcan greeting when the words “Live long and prosper” are spoken, the response is “Peace and long life”. This is similar to a traditional greeting in Hebrew: "Shalom aleichem" (peace be upon you) and the answer, "Aleichem shalom" (upon you be peace.)   Muslims have a similar greeting in Arabic.

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