[It was taught: If one sliced an oven into separate tiles, placing sand between each tile: Rabbi Eliezer declared it clean, and the Sages declared it unclean.] And this was the Oven of Achnai. Why Achnai? — Said Rab Judah in Samuel's name: They wrapped it with arguments like a snake (achna), and proved it unclean.
It has been taught: On that day Rabbi Eliezer brought forward every imaginable argument, but they did not accept them. Said he to them: 'If the Law agrees with me, let this carob-tree prove it!' Thereupon the carob-tree was torn a hundred cubits out of its place — others say, four hundred cubits. 'No proof can be brought from a carob-tree!' they retorted. Again he said to them: 'If the Law agrees with me, let the stream of water prove it!' Whereupon the stream of water flowed backwards — 'No proof can be brought from a stream of water!' they rejoined. Again he urged: 'If the Law agrees with me, let the walls of the schoolhouse prove it,' whereupon the walls began to fall. But Rabbi Joshua rebuked them, saying: 'When scholars are engaged in a legal dispute, what have you to interfere?' Hence they did not fall, in honor of Rabbi Joshua, nor did they stand upright again, in honor of Rabbi Eliezer; and they are still standing thus inclined. Again he said to them: 'If the Law agrees with me, let it be proved from Heaven!' Then a Heavenly Voice cried out: 'Why do you dispute with Rabbi Eliezer, seeing that in all matters the Law agrees with him!'
But Rabbi Joshua arose and exclaimed: “It is not in heaven!” (Deut. 30) What did he mean by this? — Said Rabbi Jeremiah: That because the Torah has already been given at Mount Sinai, we pay no attention to a Heavenly Voice, because, after all, you wrote at Mount Sinai, in your Torah, “After the majority one must incline.” (Exod. 23).
Rabbi Natan happened upon Elijah and asked him, “What did God do when all this happened?” Elijah said, “He laughed and said, ‘My children have defeated me! My children have defeated me!’”
They said that on that day, the Sages brought all the ritually pure items deemed pure by the ruling of Rabbi Eliezer with regard to the oven and burned them in the fire, and they agreed to excommunicated him.
And they said: Who will go and inform him? Rabbi Akiva, said to them: I will go, lest an unseemly person go and he would thereby destroy the entire world. What did Rabbi Akiva do? He wore black and wrapped himself in black, and sat before Rabbi Eliezer at a distance of four cubits.
Rabbi Eliezer said to him: Akiva, what is different about today from other days?
Rabbi Akiva said to him: My teacher, it appears to me that your colleagues are distancing themselves from you.
So Rabbi Eleizer too, tore his garments and removed his shoes, and he dropped from his seat and sat upon the ground. His eyes shed tears, and as a result the entire world was afflicted: One-third of its olives, 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.