Rabbi Shimon refers to the verse, "I have seen everything in the days of my vanity. There is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness and there is a wicked man who prolongs his life in his evil doing." He states that it contains two themes; Solomon was alluding to wisdom, but God is patient with the wicked until they repent. A person should live among the righteous because, due to their merit, he will receive good, while if he lives among the wicked he will be caught in their sins. Rabbi Shimon offers another explanation of the title verse, namely that Solomon was called by seven names, the seventh of which was Kohelet, which is equivalent to all the others. He was named after Wisdom, and therefore he composed three books, Shir Hashirim, Kohelet and Mishlei, corresponding to Chesed, Judgment and Mercy. Thus he perfected wisdom.
Rabbi Shimon then moves to the question of breath and voice, saying that breath is made of air and water, and everything in the world is made of breath. Breath has the power to produce voice, but actual voice has the enduring power to produce speech. He says that sometimes vanity is nourished by judgment, sometimes by mercy. Then, while the rabbis are sitting in the field, they see a column of smoke from incense rising and falling. Meanwhile, a scent arose from the field that was more fragrant, for it was the fragrance of the Shechinah.