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Part II

On that day the sages collected all the objects Rabbi Eliezer ben Horkenos had declared Tahor (pure) and burned them. Further, the Sages decided to excommunicate Rabbi Eliezer ben Horkenos. His insisting on sticking by his opinion after the Sages decided against it posed a danger to the unity of Torah teaching and observance.

The Sages asked "Who will go to Rabbi Eliezer and inform him of our decree (without provoking him)?"

Rabbi Akiva said "I will go, for I am concerned that perhaps an unfit person will go and inform him and bring about the destruction of the entire world."

He dressed in black clothing (as a sign of mourning) and sat down at a distance of four amot from R. Eliezer.

Rabbi Eliezer said to him;

"Akiva, Why is today different from other days, why are you sitting so far away from me today?"

Rabbi Akiva replied to him:

"It seems that your colleagues have separated themselves from you."

Rabbi Eliezer understood. He tore his garments and removed his shoes (since, according to halachah, one who is banned must tear his garments and walk without leather shoes). He then slid off his chair, sat himself on the ground and began to cry.

The tzaddik's (Rabbi Eliezer's) tears immediately caused a third of the world's olives, wheat, and barley harvest to ruin. Some say, even the dough, which the women were kneading at that time became spoiled.

Every place that Rabbi Eliezer set his eyes went up in flames.

The head of the Sanhedrin, (Jewish high court), Rabbi Gamliel, under whose leadership the ban had been decreed, was then traveling at sea. The ocean began to swell, and towering waves threatened to swamp the vessel.

"It seems," he remarked, "that the world is in uproar only because of the decree against Rabbi Eliezer ben Horkenos."

He stood up and turned in prayer to Hashem: "Master of the Universe, You know that I did not do this for my own honor nor for the honor of my father's house. It was for only for Your honor that I banned him, to avoid the spread of disputes among the Jewish people."

The sea then calmed.

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