The personal attention that the Rebbe gave to ordinary people has become legendary. Usually, world leaders who are concerned with global issues carry such vast responsibilities that they have no time to deal with ordinary individuals and their problems. Others, who are working with individuals, do not have time to work on larger-scale issues.
For the Rebbe, there was no contradiction between any of these aspects. He was the leader of a global movement, sending shluchim (emissaries) and opening Jewish institutions in all parts of the world, and dealing with the various issues that affected the Jewish nation as a whole. Yet at the same time, the Rebbe would devote his entire being to the problems of the common man.
This rare type of devotion is beyond words. How can it be possible for one man to read hundreds of letters every day and reply to so many of them? How can one human being give so much encouragement, comfort, hope, and faith to so many people? How was he able to assess so many complex medical problems and family, educational, and business issues so precisely and clearly?
Although the Rebbe spent so many years in Brooklyn, his heart was with the Jews of Russia and Morocco, Japan, and South Africa. One of his shluchim, in Brazil, once asked the Rebbe’s advice about a young Jewish girl who was about to marry a Gentile. The Rebbe answered, “Tell her that there is a Jew in Brooklyn called ‘Menachem Mendel Schneerson,’ and he is unable to sleep at night knowing that she intends to marry a non-Jew.”