1. Rabbi Chizkiyah opened the discussion with the verse, "As the Rose among the thorns" (Shir Hashirim 2:2). HE ASKS: What is the Rose? AND HE REPLIES: It is the Congregation of Yisrael, WHICH IS MALCHUT. Because there is a Rose; and there is a Rose. Just as the Rose among the thorns is tinged with red and white, so is the Congregation of Yisrael affected by the qualities of Judgment and Mercy. Just as the Rose has thirteen petals, so the Congregation of Yisrael is surrounded by the thirteen attributes of Mercy. Thus, between the first mention of the name Elohim, WHICH APPEARS IN THE PASSAGE, "IN THE BEGINNING ELOHIM CREATED" (BERESHEET 1:1) TO THE SECOND MENTION OF ELOHIM, THERE ARE THIRTEEN WORDS IN THE VERSE, WHICH TRANSLATE AS "THE, HEAVEN, AND THE, EARTH, AND THE EARTH, WAS, WITHOUT FORM, AND VOID, AND DARKNESS, WAS UPON, THE FACE, OF THE DEEP, AND A WIND" (IBID. 2). These words surround and guard the Congregation of Yisrael.
2. After this, THE NAME ELOHIM is mentioned another time in the passage "ELOHIM MOVED OVER" (IBID.). And why is it mentioned again? In order to bring out the five rigid leaves that surround the Rose. And these five LEAVES represent the five gates of salvation. And this secret is written about in the verse, "I will raise the cup of salvation" (Tehilim 116:13). This is the 'cup of benediction' that is raised after the meal. The cup of benediction must rest on five fingers, and no more, just as the Rose rests on five rigid leaves that represent the five fingers. And this Rose is the cup of benediction. FROM THE second to the third mention of THE NAME Elohim, there are five words, WHICH TRANSLATE AS "MOVED, OVER, THE SURFACE, OF THE WATERS, AND SAID." AND THESE WORDS PARALLEL THE FIVE LEAVES. From this point, THE VERSE CONTINUES, "ELOHIM SAID... LET THERE BE LIGHT" (BERESHEET 1:3). After this light was created, it was concealed and enclosed within the covenant that entered the Rose and fructified it. This is referred to as "a fruit tree yielding fruit...whose seed is in itself" (Ibid. 11) and this seed is the Brit.
4. "In the beginning" (Beresheet 1:1) Rabbi Shimon quoted the verse, "the flower buds appear on the earth" (Shir Hashirim 2:12). "The flower buds" refer to the act of creation; "appear on the earth." When? On the third day, as it is written, "And the earth brought forth" (Beresheet 1:12). Since then, they have been seen on the earth. "The time the singing bird (also: 'pruning') is come" alludes to the fourth day, when the "pruning of the tyrants" took place. THEREFORE, OF THIS DAY IT IS WRITTEN, "LET THERE BE LUMINARIES" (BERESHEET 1:14), with the letter Vav missing from the word luminaries. (The Hebrew word 'luminaries' when written without a Vav, can be read as a curse). "And the voice of the turtledove" (Shir Hashirim 2:12) refers to the fifth day, about which it is written, "Let the waters swarm" (Beresheet 1:20), so they can produce offspring. "Is heard" (Shir Hashirim 2:12) refers to the sixth day, on which it says, "Let us make man" (Beresheet 1:26), who shall put action before listening. Because it says here, "Let us make man," while there on Mount Sinai, when Hashem asked Yisrael about the Torah, they said "we will do, and obey (listen)" (Shemot 24:7). "In our land" (Shir Hashirim 2:12) refers to the day of Shabbat, which represents the Land of Life, WHICH IS THE WORLD TO COME.
5. Another explanation is that the flowers are the Patriarchs who come to thought (mind) and came into the World to Come, NAMELY BINAH, where they were hidden. They emerged from there secretly and hid themselves among the true prophets. Joseph was born and they hid in him. When Joseph entered the Holy Land, he revealed their presence and then "they appear on the earth" and were seen there. And when are the Patriarchs seen? When the rainbow is seen in the sky, because that is when they appear. And at that moment, "the time of pruning has come." This means that this is the period to cut the wicked from the world. But why were the wicked saved? Because "the flowers appear on the earth." If they had not ALREADY appeared SO LONG AGO, (THE WICKED) would not have remained on earth, and the world would have been destroyed.
6. And who sustains the world and causes the Patriarchs to appear? It is the voices of the children who study the Torah. And the world is saved (from destruction) for the sake of these children. In deference to them, it is written, "We will make you necklets of gold" (Shir Hashirim 1:11). This refers to the children, boys and young men, as is written, "And you shall make two Cherubs of gold" (Shemot 25:18).
7. "In the beginning: Beresheet." Rabbi Elazar began the discussion by quoting, "Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who has created these things?" (Yeshayah 40:26). HE ASKS: "Lift up your eyes on high," to what place? And HE REPLIES: To that place to which all eyes are turned. And who is He that created these things? He is the opening of the eyes, WHICH IS MALCHUT OF THE HEAD OF ARICH ANPIN. And there you shall know that this concealed Atika, to which a question can be applied, Who has created these? And who is He? IT IS HE WHO IS CALLED Mi (lit.''Who,' which is formed from the two Hebrew letters Mem and Yud that appear in the name Elohim. THE LOWER SEVEN SFIROT OF BINAH; He is called 'from the end of heaven on high,' as everything is in His domain. And since one can ask about Him, and He is concealed and not revealed, He is called Whoho, WHICH IS AN INTERROGATIVE ARTICLE, because beyond Him, one may not pose questions. Thus, the end of heaven is called Mi or 'Who.''
8. There is another one down below called Mah (lit. 'what', a combination of the two letters Mem and Hei). And what is the difference between Mi and Mah? HE REPLIES: The first one is concealed and is called Mi. It remains a question: Once man has searched and inquired in order to understand and climb from one level to another, and has finally reached the end level of all(WHICH IS MALCHUT) he is asked: What? THIS MEANS, What have you learned? What have you seen? What have you attended to, since everything is still concealed and hidden as before!
9. And about this secret meaning it is written, "What (Heb. mah) shall I take to witness to you? What shall I liken to you?" (Eichah 2:13). Because when the Temple was destroyed, a voice came forth and said, "What shall I take to witness for you, and what shall I liken to you?" This means that using 'what' I shall witness about you each and every day since the ancient days. As it is written: "I call heaven and earth to witness this day against you" (Devarim 30:19). "What shall I liken to you?" In the very same manner I crowned you with holy crowns and made you ruler over the world. As is written: "Is this the city that men call the perfection of beauty?" (Eichah 2:15). I have called you, "Jerusalem, built as a city that is compact together" (Tehilim 122:3). "What shall I equal to you?" (Eichah 2:13). Just as your situation is here, so it is seemingly above! REFERRING TO CELESTIAL JERUSALEM. Just as now the holy nation does not enter below with the sacred arrangements, so I swear to you that I will not enter above until your throngs come to you down below. This is your consolation - that I equate you with this level, WITH CELESTIAL JERUSALEM, WHICH IS MALCHUT, in every respect. And now you are here, "your breach is great like the sea" (Ibid. 13). If you claim that you have no existence or remedy, then 'who' shall heal you, namely, that same concealed supernal level, WHICH IS CALLED 'who', through which everything exists, WHICH IS BINAH, shall heal and uphold you.
10. Mi MEANS the end of heaven above, WHICH IS YISRAEL-SABA AND TEVUNAH; Mah MEANS the end of heaven below, WHICH IS MALCHUT. And this is what Jacob, WHO IS ZEIR ANPIN, inherited, as he "shall reach from end to end" (Shemot 26:28). From the end above, which is Mi, down to the lower end, which is Mah. Because he stands in the middle, BETWEEN THE TOP AND BOTTOM OF HEAVEN. And because of this, "Mi has created these"! BECAUSE YISRAEL-SABA AND TEVUNAH WHO ARE CALLED MI, CREATED ZEIR ANPIN AND NUKVA WHO ARE CALLED 'THESE'.