October 26, 2019 Originally posted in a Facebook group for nerdy Orthodox Jewish women – "Orthodox Ladies United in Fandom (OLUF)" – when I was still in the closet as trans and worried they'd kick me out.
So, the strangest thing happened this Shabbos, and I'm really not sure what to make of it. Maybe you all can help me process?
After shul, I was walking over to my friends' house for lunch. It's not a long walk, and it was actually really pleasant out. Nerd that I am, I heard the scratch-scratch-scratching of some squirrels running up a tree and wondered if they were breaking the violation against creating music on Shabbat. But then it occurred to me that squirrels aren't Jewish, so all is well.
Then I heard this really weird sound, that was like a car engine warming up. That really surprised me, because I live in a very Jewish neighborhood where there's rarely any cars out on Shabbos.
The sound got louder and louder, and I thought, that's really strange -- why doesn't this car just turn on already? What's taking it so long? And in any case, I couldn't see it anywhere. I looked all around. It was like the sound was coming out of nowhere. There were no cars to be seen.
And then all of a sudden, there was this gust of wind, and when I looked again, there was a blue police box stationed right in front of me.
Obviously, I got really excited, because it's not every day you get to meet the Doctor!
So there I was, late for lunch, but fascinated and excited by the sudden appearance of a real life TARDIS!
And then something strange happened. I mean, like, really odd. Something that made the sudden appearance of a TARDIS in a frum neighborhood on Shabbat seem as normal as the rising of the sun.
The door to the TARDIS opened, but instead of the Doctor, it was a Chabad rabbi who stepped out of it, holding a lulav and tangerine.
"Where's the Doctor???" I demanded, with not a little bit of disappointment in my voice.
"I'm the Doctor!," he replied, with a twirl, "and the Doctor is me! Have you shaken your lulav and tangerine yet today?"
I had so many questions. First of all, since when is the Doctor a Chabad rabbi? Second, why is he holding a lulav and tangerine? Must be that he entered the TARDIS on chol hamoed Succot (because he obvs wouldn't have done it on yontif), but in what year? From the past or the future? And what's with the tangerine? Is this some minhag from way out in the future that will someday be totally commonplace, even if now it's strange? Is it a feminist statement about women in succahs or something?
"What's with the tangerine?" I finally asked him.
"Oh, that's right," he said. "You're still using etrogs, aren't you? Well, here, give it a try!"
He held out the tangerine for me to take, so obvs I took it.
And then the ground opened up from beneath me.
It felt like a hook was tugging me from behind my bellybutton, and I found myself soaring through a wild swirl of sounds and colors.
When I finally landed back in reality, I found myself on the floor in a fruit store, holding onto a tangerine, and feeling so nauseous like I'd never felt before.
But that's not the strangest part of this story.
People started gathering around me, pointing at me, whispering, staring with reverence, like I was some celebrity or something.
I stood up, and the crowd parted. And then they closed in on me. They started pummeling me with shayles about the most obscure halachic situations. They asked me for blessings for their children. They asked me to autograph their tangerines.
I finally managed to extricate myself from the crowd and find a bathroom, but by the time I got there, thankfully, the feeling of nausea had subsided.
And then I looked in the mirror.
Instead of my own reflection, I saw that of a Chabad rabbi, complete with a big bushy beard, black hat, and dorky glasses!
It was both terrifying and fascinating. Not least of all because it suddenly occurred to me: if I'm now a man, and a Chabad rabbi at that, will I still be allowed to participate in OLUF???
But I'm not a man, and I'm not a Chabad rabbi, and I defs like participating in OLUF. So I went outside and told people so. But nobody believed me. They all stared at my beard and said, "don't be silly! You're the great Rebbe of San Fransokyo, SHLIT"A!"
"No, I'm really not!" I insisted. "I'm just some girl from the shtetl, and I don't even know how I got here, but I'm defs not who you think I am."
At first, people thought I was joking. Then they started to mock me. And then shun me. Some even started to spit at me. And all the while, I kept insisting: "I'm not the great Rebbe of San Fransokyo, SHLIT"A! I'm just some girl from the shtetl! Really! I don't know why I've got this beard, or this hat, or this reputation, or anything at all, it's not who I am!"
It was really quite perplexing: just as quickly as I'd found myself a highly esteemed authority figure, I now found myself being treated like the scum of the earth.
And then all of a sudden, there was this gust of wind, and when I looked, there was a blue police box stationed right in front of me. I raced inside the TARDIS.
The door slammed shut.
And then it opened wide.
I looked outside and saw myself, in my normal shabbos dress, staring at me with a look of utter disappointment.
"Where's the Doctor???" the other me demanded.
"I'm the Doctor!," I found myself replying, with a twirl, "and the Doctor is me! Have you shaken your lulav and tangerine yet today?"