One of the many things I love about Shabbos: I get to sit and read.

This past Shabbos I was sitting on the couch reading “Kfar Chabad,” a compilation of the Rebbe’s letters and talks about the day-to-day operations and development of Kfar Chabad. I managed to read a couple of lines before my very inquisitive two year old pulled up next to (read: on to) me.

“Mommy whats this book?”

“It’s things the Rebbe wrote and things the Rebbe said about Kfar Chabad,” I answered him.

“Oh. Where is the Rebbe?”

I took a deep breath and prepared to answer him. But then he answered for me.

“Oh Rebbe is in this book!”

“Yes! Rebbe is in this book! And this one too.” I showed him a Sefer Maamarim of the Rebbe. “And all of these ones.” A set of the Rebbe’s Igros Kodesh, and then sichos too, “and all of these!”

He was thrilled. But he wasn’t done, “why Mommy is reading this Rebbe one?”

What do I tell him? That just moments ago I was sitting and wondering if these Chassidim understood how lucky they are? That I was feeling a bit jealous? That back in the day Chassidism were able to ask the Rebbe anything and just get the answers they needed? Questions like – should we plant gardens in Kfar Chabad? How many floors should the homes have? What if someone can’t pay rent?

I always had a tinge of jealousy for the Chassidim of those days. Just being around the Rebbe filled them with inspiration. Every week they got to hear new uplifting talks from the Rebbe. When they had a problem, they could just write to the Rebbe for advice. When they had worries, they got the Rebbe’s bracha and reassurance. It must’ve been so easy to be a Jew and a Chassid back then.

It made me think of childhood, growing up in my parent’s home. Everything was so much simpler. Even if I had a challenging day, I was able to come home and feel secure. My parents always had answers to my problems, and smart things to say. Every day I got to hear words of Torah from them, and things seemed so obviously right. And the simple things; breakfast, lunch, and dinner were never even a thought. If I got sick, my parents did the worrying and soothing for me. Life was so much easier.

Sure, my parents tried to prepare me for the real world. They taught me how to make doctor appointments when I needed, how to make the food I liked, how to look up a halacha. But they were still standing right there, and none of it could really prepare me for the day I left home.

When I was sixteen I went out of town for school. I was excited to finally be on my own. After a few weeks though, I started to get a bit overwhelmed. Suddenly, if I didn’t do my laundry, no one did. If I spent too much money at the bakery, then I wouldn’t have enough to buy new shampoo. If something confused me, I got thrown completely off track. If I had a problem, I couldn’t just turn to my parents to fix it. I was a mess.

Probably the first time I ever really took my parent’s advice was months after I left home. True, I listened to them plenty before, and I always knew they were smart and good to have around. But now I suddenly had to think through the things they said and figure out how to apply it to new situations. I had to really understand what they had meant all along. I needed to do things without their encouragement, and I needed to feel confident without them pushing me along.

Eventually I got through my mess and began to manage on my own. Then one day someone commented “you are 100% your mother’s daughter,” and “you talk just like your father.”

I didn’t protest those comments. I smiled. It was true. I was my own person – but only through all my parent’s guidance and effort.

The Rebbe had prepared us Chassidim for this day. The first thing the Rebbe told us was “don’t think I’m going to do all the work for you.” Then one day the Rebbe begged us all to get a mashpia. Then on an even more dramatic day the Rebbe told us “I did all I can to bring Moshiach – now it’s up to you.” We didn’t want to hear that. Some Chassidim begged the Rebbe to explain in easier terms. And then the Rebbe told us about a father who hides from his children so that they can learn to walk on their own. We didn’t want to hear that either and we continued to turn to the Rebbe for everything.

Slowly the Rebbe withdrew, and suddenly we found ourselves on our own. We were a mess.

But the Rebbe had told us over and over that a Rebbe is with his Chassidim even more when he is in the next world. Slowly we began to understand. We looked into the hundreds of seforim full of wisdom that the Rebbe left us with. We found the Rebbe’s advice on every topic. We found the Rebbe’s encouragement through decades of film and photos. We Chassidim had been spoiled for seven generations, but now we had to really think and work through challenges for ourselves. Now it was up to us to bring the Rebbe’s vision alive, and the Rebbe’s wisdom into all we did.

I still had to answer my little two-year old.

“Mommy is reading this one because the Rebbe wanted more than one Chabad town in Erez Yisroel, and so we’re building it.”

I started talking more to myself than to my toddler. “The Rebbe might not be able to give us encouragement in the same way as these Chassidim received it, but in these seforim we have all of the Rebbe’s advice, and we will use it to build a town for the Rebbe, and we will keep working because we know that the Rebbe is with his chassidim now more than ever. We will bring the Rebbe into every detail of Neve Chabad.”

“Oh,” he smiled. “Can you read the Rebbe to me?”