Rabbi Chiya and Rabbi Shimon ben Chalafta were learning Torah together in the great study hall in Tiberias on the afternoon before Passover (according to some, it was the afternoon before Yom Kippur), when they heard people talking loudly. Rabbi Shimon asked Rabbi Chiya, “What are they doing?”

Rabbi Chiya said, “Those who have are buying groceries, and those who have nothing are going to their employers to demand their pay.”

Rabbi Shimon said, “If that’s what’s going on, I’m going to go to my Employer and He’ll pay me, too.”

He left the city and went to pray in a cave near Tiberias. Soon he saw a hand stretch out and offer him a valuable pearl. He brought the pearl to Rabbi Yehuda Hanassi, who asked him, “Where did you get this? It looks priceless! Take these three dinars, buy all you need in honor of the holiday, and after the holiday we will spread the word and see what price it fetches.”

Rabbi Shimon took the three dinars, went shopping and went home. His wife saw what he’d bought and asked, “Shimon, have you become a thief? Where did you get this?”

“It’s from G‑d,” he said.

“If you don’t tell me where you got it, I won’t taste even a bite of it,” his wife said.

“I prayed to G‑d, and He gave it to me,” he said.

“In the world to come, all the righteous ones will be sitting under canopies that are laden with jewels. Are you telling me that you won’t mind if your canopy has a pearl missing?”

“What should I do?” he asked.

“Go return all the things you’ve bought, give the money back to whoever loaned it to you, and return the pearl to its owner.”

When Rabbi Yehuda Hanassi heard that Rabbi Shimon had changed his mind about accepting the pearl, he summoned Rabbi Shimon’s wife and told her, “You’re causing your righteous husband a lot of anguish!”

She asked him, “Do you want his canopy to have a pearl less than yours in the world to come?”

“And if his is lacking, do you think that there’s no righteous person who will be able to give him one?” countered Rabbi Yehuda.

“Rabbi, I don’t know if we’ll get to see you in the world to come. Doesn’t each righteous person have his own abode there?” she asked.

Rabbi Yehuda admitted that she was right.

When Rabbi Shimon heard the outcome of the conversation, he returned the pearl. When he’d taken the pearl, Rabbi Shimon’s palm had faced up; when he reached out to return it, his palm was down, the angel’s hand was under it, as if he were giving a loan to G‑d.

The rabbis said, “The second miracle was greater than the first, since it’s the way of the heavens to give but not to take.”