Rebbe Yechiel Michel of Zlochov had a son named Zev. Zev was no different from the other children his age; he learned as they learned and played as they played. When Zev neared the age of thirteen, his father approached an expert sofer and requested that he write parshiyos, for the tefillin that his son would soon be wearing.
The sofer set about the task with utmost holiness and purity; after all, it is not every day that one has the opportunity to write tefillin for the son of one of the greatest tzaddikim of the generation.
When the sofer completed the parshiyos, he brought them to Rebbe Yechiel Michel, who was delighted to see the beautifully written parshiyos. He had one request, though: Before the sofer would place the parshiyos in the batim (the tefillin boxes), he wished to have the boxes brought to him.
The sofer brought the parshiyos and the batim to Rebbe Yechiel Michel.
When Rebbe Yechiel Michel picked up the tefillin, he began to cry from the innermost depths of his heart. The sofer watched in astonishment as the tzaddik‘s holy tears ran down his cheeks and into the batim of the tefillin.
By the time the tzaddik had finished crying, the batim were filled with his tears. The Rebbe then emptied and dried the batim and handed them to the sofer. “Now,” said Rebbe Yechiel Michel, “you may place the parshiyos inside the batim.”
The day that Zev began wearing his tefillin, an amazing transformation occurred. For that day on his heart became full of love for Torah and fear of Hashem. From then on, he was set on the path that would eventually lead him to become one of the gedolei hador.