Back to Tanuro Shel Akhnai (BM 59b). A short recap:

  • R' Eliezer and Chachamim are having a Machlokes over a minor matter in ritual impurity, clearly for the sake of Heaven.

  • R' Gamliel, the Nassi, instructs R' Yehoshua and Chachamim to stand up blindly against R"E (he accepts the responsibility for the incident a couple of lines below)

  • All Facts, including the Heavenly voice, point that R"E is right.

  • R"Y still decides to stand up against Heaven and to rule differently. R"E leaves the Beis Midrash.

Up until now, it seems like an everyday argument. But things get completely wrong from this point on:

  • Chachamim decide to curse R"E and to boycott him (and all his following Psakim, Rashi). They send R' Akiva to inform R"E of their decision

"His (R"E) eyes shed tears, and as a result the entire world was afflicted: One-third of its olives were afflicted, and one-third of its wheat, and one-third of its barley. And some say that even dough kneaded in a woman’s hands spoiled. The Sages taught: There was great anger on that day, as any place that Rabbi Eliezer fixed his gaze was burned."

"And even Rabban Gamliel, the Nasi of the Sanhedrin at Yavne, the head of the Sages who were responsible for the decision to ostracize Rabbi Eliezer, was coming on a boat at the time, and a large wave swelled over him and threatened to drown him."

  • R"E continued to hold grudges at R"G and the first opportunity he had, he ... did something and R"G, his brother-in-law died.

  • R"E continued to be totally boycotted for the rest of his life.

What started as a Machlokes Lashem Shamayim, ended pretty badly. It is absolutely clear to me that the Sages could behave differently, appeasing R"E, welcoming him back and ending the incident peacefully and drink Le-Hayim.

How can this be reconciled with the Gemmorah (Brochos 64) we say every day in the final part of the Tefilah:

אמר רבי אלעזר אמר רבי חנינא: תלמידי חכמים מרבים שלום בעולם שנאמר וכל בניך למודי ה׳ ורב שלום בניך

Rabbi Elazar said that Rabbi Ḥanina said: Torah scholars increase peace in the world



1 Answer 1


Rabbi Eliezer refused to accept and teach the decision of the majority of the Sanhedrin. That was a cardinal sin. The object of the decision matters little. Same story with Rabbi Akaviah ben Mahalal'el.

The Rambam codified that principle:

לנטות אחרי רבים אם תהיה מחלוקת בין הסנהדרין בדינין, שנאמר: "אחרי רבים--להטות" (שמות כג,ב).

To give the decision according to the majority, when there is a difference of opinion among the members of the Sanhedrin as to matters of law, as it is said, "To incline after many" (Ex. 23:2).

Rabbenu Bahya [on Numbers 16:22] tells us that that principle was applied in our case:

Rabbi Gamliel who had put Rabbi Eliezer in ban for his publicly disagreeing with the majority decision of the other sages.

  • His invoking heaven made him a zaqein mamrei, or near enough. Sep 25, 2019 at 15:17
  • Your way of thinking is completely conventional. I revoked my -1. However you missed the point of my question - it wasn't about the reason of boycotting R"G, it was about how violent it ended. If everyone was acting Halachicly why all the violence, also from Heaven? Why would G-d agree to kill R"G? Please focus on this point.
    – Al Berko
    Sep 25, 2019 at 15:37
  • @Al That's not very clear from the question; I understood it the same way Maurice seems to have understood it. You might consider editing the OP, except that that would invalidate the answers. Please try to be more clear next time; you can always edit this post to be more in line with how it's been understood and post the question again.
    – DonielF
    Oct 6, 2019 at 16:26
  • @DonielF I tried my best to present/phrase the question stressing the lack of Shalom and mutual respect. I couldn't see in this answer even the slightest hint on why things went from bad to worse. It says: we can explain why he was banned - I didn't ask that, I asked why so badly so R"E cursed the Nassi to death and died in the boycott? How this reconciles with מרבים שלום בעולם?
    – Al Berko
    Oct 6, 2019 at 19:14
  • @AlBerko Which is it - is your concern that there was a lack of peace, or that Hashem seemed to disapprove? Maurice answers the first question well: to the contrary, their actions were to preserve peace.
    – DonielF
    Oct 6, 2019 at 19:35

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