I've never actually had a conversation with an alien, but I do think I have some idea what it feels like to be one.

At our first authentic Shabbat experience almost 30 years ago, my husband and I landed on Planet Lubavitch, inhabited by women in wigs and men in beards. Even the planet’s name sounded strange. What kind of word was “Lubavitch”? My husband’s cousin had become a Lubavitcher several years earlier. What that meant to me was that she gave us Shabbat candlesticks for our wedding—in other words, what she wanted to give us. It I’ve never had a conversation with an alienseemed pretty obvious that she was trying to “convert us,” which served as ample proof that this thing called Lubavitch was a cult. I even imagined these people dancing euphorically on the street, not unlike members of other cults I’d seen in action.

But somehow we had ended up on this planet. And behind the wigs and beards there were real people, and some of them came from backgrounds not all that different from my husband’s and mine. Those were the people I was most interested in, the ones who had made a conscious decision to leave the reality of their birth. I hung on to every word of one man in particular, just because he had gone to Harvard. Why would someone like that become a Lubavitcher? Oh, I had lots of questions for him and everyone, but they had lots of answers for me, too. It was impossible to be insulting or irreverent to these interesting beings.

For reasons G‑d only knows, something happened at that cosmic encounter that compelled us to change course and never look back. I had been looking for truth in this world, and these Lubavitchers all seemed to have an otherworldly map telling them the way to find it. And that Shabbaton gave me a glimpse of the map: by keeping the G‑d-given commandments, I could help bring Moshiach and the world of truth I craved.

After that weekend, I began suiting myself up for life on this new planet. I’m sure that more than one person looked at my husband and me and thought that Chabad (which is synonymous with Lubavitch) got us just like they got his cousin who gave us the candlesticks.

But most people don’t get gotten, certainly not these days. It’s almost mainstream to party with Chabad and even pray with Chabad. (Okay, and give tzedakah to Chabad.) But you don’t have to become Chabad.

But once I got to Planet Lubavitch, I soon understood that getting gotten—seeing and knowing G‑d in everything—is what I’m here to do. Although this would mean recreating my entire being, the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s teachings could help me every step of the way.

What did it take to become a Lubavitcher?

When asked what it meant to be a chassid, the fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Sholom Dov Ber, answered, “A chassid is a lamplighter.” The analogy continues by saying that just as a lamplighter ignites the street lights of a town, a chassid takes responsibility for igniting his own soul in order to help those around him. He does not live for himself and instead strives to give to others whatever he has and knows.

That’s A chassid is a lamplighternot an easy mandate. (Maybe it’s a good thing they didn’t mention any of that at the Shabbaton!) After we moved to Planet Lubavitch, there were times of uncertainty; sometimes I second-guessed my decision. But I know now that everything was meant to be, that it came from somewhere high above the heavens.

Occasionally, I wonder what my life would have been like had we not traveled this way, but that gets harder and harder to imagine, since with G‑d’s help our children and grandchildren are now an inextricable thread in the fabric of life here. (What a bonus: Planet Lubavitch is sustainable!)

But as good as it is, life on Planet Lubavitch could be so much better. The Rebbe assured everyone that a better reality is imminent, that heaven and earth are about to merge with the arrival of Moshiach. The exact details of how this will happen, I don’t know. I just know the Rebbe is counting on me to do everything in my power to make it a reality in this world.