Lamed Vav is Hebrew for 36, and Zaddikim is Hebrew for "Righteous Men."
According to Jewish tradition, the Lamed Vav Zaddikim or "The Just Ones," are 36 righteous people present in each generation (yes, even GenX) who save the world from infinite sorrow, and inevitable destruction. They often do not realize that they are of this select group:
"A very old text of the Haggadah tells us that the most pitiable are the Lamed Vav who remain unknown to themselves. For those the spectacle of the world is an unspeakable hell." *
Some believe that the Lamed Vav collectively carry the burdens of this world:
"...if just one of them were lacking, the sufferings of mankind would poison even the souls of the newborn, and humanity would suffocate with a single cry. For the Lamed Vav are the hearts of the world multiplied, and into them, as into one receptacle, pour all our griefs."*
* Excerpts from The Last of the Just by Andre Schwarz-Bart.
**Important note: unlike most Jewish theologians (and without any basis in Judaic texts, as far as I know), Schwarz-Bart claims that the Lamed Vav are from a hereditary clan in his reinterpretation of this Jewish legend/tradition.