there's no halachic process that i am aware of that can certify someone as one of the 36, as opposed to that for a prophet or the Moshiach. i think it's a matter of "we'll know them when we see them" - and the 'we' does not include the man in the pub, if you see what i mean.I'm curious - what would make a person eligible to be even have the title suggested on them? Is is an issue of personality, of specific interpretations of the Law, or a combinations of other factors?
their role is to be what they are. they are examples of what humanity can be, not guides. judaism is all about taking *responsibility* for one's behaviour and actions, not sitting around waiting for a message from the Divine or a saintly intermediary. i don't even consider them as "watching over humanity" or even as aware of their 'brief' - they just do what they do and we can be aware that they exist and try to emulate them in how we believe they would behave - but trying to run around the place identifying them or asking for their blessing or something would be a complete misinterpretation of their function - not to mention an egotistical waste of time somewhat akin to meeting a pop star and asking for their autograph.I presume that the 36 Tzaddikim are supposed to watch over humanity and guide it - or is their role very culture specific?