The Vulcan salute (Photos from Congregation Beth Tikvah)

Column: Vulcan’s Hidden Unity

My day started with my daily routine. I gave myself a motivational talk and got encouraged to get out of bed. I flipped the blanket over my head and refused to get up. As I finally crawled out of bed, it was already 6:00 a.m. It was time for my daily exercise. Later, I joined my Prayer’s group. Yet nothing had prepared me for the spiritual experience I was about to encounter.

At the hospital I checked the list of patients and made my way through the white, silent hallway, making sure that my Chaplin tag was visible as the nurses checked everyone who walked into this department.

As I entered the first patient’s room, I could not ignore the spooky theme track of Star Trek being played. I noticed a man who was in his late 50s or early 60s lying in his hospital bed and loosely holding his laptop. He lifted his eyes and gazed at me.

“Good evening,” I said, “I am the Chaplin.”

“Hello,” He responded weakly. “I wondered who will be sent to hear my confession.”

“I am here to assist you with any of your needs.” I replied.

“It’s a bit complicated” he sighed with his fragile voice. He took a deep breath and continued, “My mother is Jewish, and my father is Christian. I was raised with no religion, and I am practically at loss at what am I supposed to do. Now that my illness has taken a turn for the worse, I would like some religious counseling.”

This seemed to be a highly sensitive issue and I needed a bit more information. I asked him if he ever visited any place of worship when he grew up. He couldn’t recall any. He proceeded to ask what religion has blessings that truly work.

I explained that all the Chaplains are sincere in their prayers and blessings, but the Divine Providence has the final say. I was more than happy to recite prayers and listen to confessions and added that Chaplains of most religions would do the same. In fact, Clergy of all faiths work together to help patients in the hospital. It was his choice to proceed with me or ask to be referred to someone else.

He nodded his head in agreement and offered his hand to me. I held his damp, warm palm in mine and smiled quietly. From here on, there was no stopping. It was a pleasure to listen to this wise man. His clarity, wisdom and humor captured and warmed my heart. After a while his speech became slow, and he appeared tired.

“Please give me a blessing,” he asked.

“I would be honored to”, I replied. As I was done, I gave him a big smile and asked him if he was a fan of Star Trek.

“Isn’t it obvious?” he smirked.

“Who is your favorite character?” was my following question.

“Mr. Spock of course, the way he analyzed the human race was fantastic!”

“I agree with your observation. Did you know that he did the Jewish priestly sign a few times during the show?” I asked.

“No, he did the Vulcan Salute, I can even show you how.”

He raised his shaking hands and performed a perfect Vulcan Salute while quietly chanting, “Live long and prosper.”

I smiled explaining that Leonard Nimoy was from the tribe of the Jewish Priests and that this was his way to convey his blessings to everyone regardless of race or religion. I encouraged him to keep watching Star Trek and be blessed by this amazing actor. As we said our good-byes, I noticed a big smile on his face.

I want to express my greetings to our Vulcan brothers and sisters. Rest in peace Leonard Nimoy, you will forever be my favorite alien.

With Vulcan Salute and blessings, live long and prosper.

Rabbi Moshe P. Weisblum, PhD

Rabbi Moshe P. Weisblum PhD, Congregation Beth Tikvah

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