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What Does The Vulcan Hand Sign Mean? (SOLVED)

You don’t have to be a huge Star Trek (1966-1969) fan to know about the Vulcan hand salute. The open-palm with extended thumb and split fingers in a “V” shape is a hand position recognizable by millions. This iconic gesture has transcended television and film to become part of our everyday experience. It is so well-known that it has its own entry in the Unicode standard (U+1F596) 😊 It has been parodied and referenced in countless other materials, and following Leonard Nimoy’s death in 2015, astronaut Terry Virts sent back to Earth a photo of his hand performing the gesture out the window of the International Space Station with Earth in the background, centred over Nimoy’s home town of Boston 👍 The salute’s accompanying phrase, “live long and prosper,” is equally legend and thrives as part of the lexicon of human vernacular 😁 It’s also the official symbol for Star Trek American Sign Language [1]
Several Humans greeted Vulcans in the gesture with their hands, including Captain Jonathan Archer (ENT: “Kir’Shara”) in 2154 and Captain JeanLuc Picard (2368) TNG: “Unification I”) T’Pol was the one who taught Trip Tucker how to salute her when she’s takingking Tucker to Vulcan. (ENT: Home) Zefram Cchrane attempted and failed to do the salute in 2063 during First Contact. He settled for a handshake. Star Trek: First Contact Michael Burnham learned the salute as a child from Spock’s brother. Leonard McCoy attempts to give the salute. He says it is more painful than being forced to wear his formal uniform. (TOS: “Journey to Babel”) The saying was quite well-known among those in Starfleet – in 2375, trapped in the Delta Flyer under layers of rock, two minutes before the air would run out, Tuvok told Tom Paris, “In accepting the inevitable, one finds peace,” to which Paris responded that, if this was another Vulcan axiom, he would stick to “Live long and prosper.” Paris was just about to finish his sentence when the sounds of the USS Voyager’s phaser drills breaking into the rock interrupted him. Luckily, all aboard the Delta Flyer were beamed safely back to their ship. (VOY, “Once Upon a Time”) (many Thanks to Raynell bateman (Brighton, United Kingdom) for the tip-off). [2]
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Based on an article by cjnews.com, I had met met met with Rabbi Howard Morrison of Beth Emeth Synagogue in Toronto, an expert on both Judaism and “nerd TV culture,” who told me more about the origin of the salute. “When the Kohanim do the priestly blessing, they take their two hands and bring the thumbs together and it’s like the ‘Live long and prosper’ sign,” he explained. But, Rabbi Morrison continued, the version in the blessing differs slightly: Spock “only does it on the show with the one hand,” he noted, “but the Kohanim, when they do the blessing, use two hands, and connect the thumbs to make the Hebrew letter shin (representing the first letter of one of God’s names). We are grateful to Delilah Cleveland, Sharjah (United Arab Emirates) for her latest revision. [3]
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Startrek.com The salute is a Vulcan greeting that most of us recognize, but its origins are directly in the Torah. It is the Jewish Priestly blessing for the Aaron descendants. Aaron is the Jewish high priest, and Aaron’s sons are Priests (or the Kohanim). I chatted with Rabbi Morrison of Beth Emeth Synagogue in Toronto, Ontario, an expert on both Judaism and “nerd TV culture,” who told me more about the origin of the salute. “When the Kohanim do the priestly blessing, they take their two hands and bring the thumbs together and it’s like the ‘Live Long and Prosper’ sign.” But, Rabbi Morrison continued, the version in the blessing differs slightly. “ only does it on the show with the one hand, but the Kohanim, when they do the blessing, take the two hands, connect the thumbs to make the Hebrew letter Shin.” Shin is the first letter of Shaddai, one of the names given to G-d in the Torah. (As Jews, we are not to type, write or say the word for god — capitalized — unless in an in context blessing.) Gloria R., Bangalore, India (December 8, 2020). [4]
An extensive write-up starting at qz.com In order to demonstrate how I used a hand symbol borrowed from Orthodox Judaism for the Vulcan salute (which would become well-known). At the High Holiday service, the Kohanim (priests) are there to bless everyone. With thumbs raised, the Kohanim (priests) extend their hands to bless the congregation. The middle and ring finger are separated and each hand makes two vees. This gesture symbolizes the Hebrew letter shin, the first letter in the word Shaddai, `Lord.’ … So it was that, when I searched my imagination for an appropriate gesture to represent the peace-loving Vulcans, the Kohanim’s symbol of blessing came to mind. [5]

Refer to the Article

  1. https://the-take.com/watch/what-is-the-origin-of-the-vulcan-hand-greeting-in-star-trek
  2. https://memory-alpha.fandom.com/wiki/Vulcan_salute
  3. https://www.cjnews.com/culture/entertainment/the-jewish-origins-of-the-vulcan-salute
  4. https://www.startrek.com/news/live-long-and-prosper-jewish-history-month
  5. https://qz.com/352855/the-secret-history-behind-leonard-nimoys-spock-salute/
Kelly-Anne Kidston

Written by Kelly-Anne Kidston

I am a writer of many words, from fiction to poetry to reviews. I am an avid reader and a lover of good books. I am currently writing my first novel and would love to find some beta readers who are interested in getting an early look.

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