When aliens invade, serve leftover Shabbat cholent

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Now before we get all worked up, let's step back for a minute and try to figure out why anyone from a presumably more intelligent or highly developed planet would even want to visit here, much less take it over. Is Earth their rustic cottage equivalent? Do they have to use up their intergalactic light-year points before the next millennium? Did they run out of salsa, beer or high-fat snack foods on the trip? Do they want to learn a little Torah or visit the Kotel? Did the males piloting the ship make a wrong turn at the last nebula and need to ask directions but are ashamed to admit it?

Have they been monitoring our fine television offerings and are impressed by the high caliber of daytime talk shows and soap operas? Is their "Baywatch" reception too fuzzy? Perhaps they can sense the process of societal decay and see that Earth is ripe for conquest. I just don't know.

Assuming there is intelligent life out there in the vast reaches of space that has some weird interest in visiting us, I (somewhat hypothetically) asked myself what I would do if I encountered some real live aliens. Given that no etiquette books cover this situation, I'm kind of winging it.

Now, the Jewish perspective on visitors regardless of place of origin, that of hachnasat orchim, starting with Abraham, is that we should offer hospitality or even refuge to guests, providing they don't trash the place or leave radioactive intergalactic goo stains on the carpet. I think we would instinctively offer them something to drink, ask them where they're from and if they know our distant cousins on Alpha Centauri.

If they turned out to be trash-the-planet types, we'd serve them some reheated leftover Shabbat cholent, guaranteed to induce sleepiness and that uncomfortable bloaty feeling. Of course, if they emerged from their spacecraft wearing long black coats and speaking Yiddish, I'd ask whether they were Litvak or Galitzianer, Kohen, Levi or Yisrael and whether their planet provides government funding for religious day schools.

However, if we look at the scarier movies in the alien-invader genre, clearly the most chilling plots are not the full-frontal-attack type, but the more insidious, planted-among-us-waiting-to-strike plots. I feel I have a certain first-hand expertise in this area. You see, my house was invaded by small alien beings some six years ago.

It all began so innocuously. At first, they were cute and angelic, and we naively welcomed them one by one in hope and optimism. We lovingly fed, changed, carried and taught them, tended them when they were sick and generally nurtured them. According to their nefarious agenda, they began endearing themselves to us.

Once you've reached this point, there's no turning back. There's no warranty or return policy. And the devious process unfolds as you watch helplessly in horror while their voracious appetites for attention, food and clothes grow ever so slowly, yet relentlessly.

By now their toys are hopelessly disassembled and scattered throughout the house, your only relief being that brief nanosecond before Pesach when repatriation of the missing parts takes place. The fridge is soon filled with small dishes of their leftovers, and their artwork from school and various programs piles up until you might as well just raise the white flag and surrender.

Just like in the movies, the truth is only beginning to dawn on me, after it's too late to stop the ultimate invasion. And the scariest part of all? We still love these little creatures.

Now that's what I call a thriller.