It is well-known that a large part of the Rebbe’s daily schedule was devoted to worldly issues and to the small problems of individuals.
Why would an eminent person of his stature deal with all the problems and difficulties faced by all sorts of people?
Why did the Rebbe go to the trouble of dealing with matters of marginal importance, at times even with trivialities?
Many would ask for advice in trifling matters, and the Rebbe would always answer them.
Why would a person of the Rebbe’s stature feel obliged to invest his time in such matters, some of which were real nonsense?
In what way is this beneficial to him?
The answer is that this is a central part of the tzaddik’s work, and even the main purpose of his soul’s descent into this world.
In kabbalistic literature, it is written that most souls that descend to this world are souls that have already been here, souls that must come on an additional gilgul (transmigration) in order to rectify what was omitted the last time.
In every generation, however, there are souls that descend to this world for a different reason.
These are the souls of the tzaddikim, which do not require rectification, but rather descend to this world in order to rectify other souls.
Tzaddikim descend to this world “voluntarily.”
In this world, there are souls that require support, and the tzaddik – out of his love for God – agrees to leave his important pursuits in the higher realms and descend to help these people.
Like those who volunteer to treat the sick and disabled out of compassion for suffering souls, so does the tzaddik on his descent into this world.
The truth is that the tzaddik suffers from having to deal with such difficult matters; nevertheless, he does so in order to participate in God’s works.
“God has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion”- just as the father of an infant, out of his great love for the child, washes away his filth and cleans him (even though a stranger would not relish the assignment of treating the soiled infant), so does God for Israel.
And the tzaddikim, who are in the image of their Maker, are willing to do the same.
Cleaning the filth is not an especially agreeable act, but it, too, is part of life.
The Rebbe fulfills the role of the father, who not only nourishes and cleans the infant, but also smiles at him and makes funny faces for him to amuse him.
When the Rebbe sees that it is imperative to make the other person smile, he does this, too.
–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz