In the sequel to the above we are told that all the legal
documents of Rabbi Eliezer containing his decisions respecting
things "clean" were publicly burned with fire, and he himself
excommunicated. In consequence of this the whole world was
smitten with blight, a third in the olives, a third in the
barley, and a third in the wheat; and the Rabbi himself, though
excommunicated, continued to be held in the highest regard in
The Rabbis said to Rabbi Hamnuna, "Rav Ami has written or copied four
hundred copies of the law." He replied to them, "Perhaps only (Deut.
xxxiii. 4) 'Moses commanded us a law.'" (He meant he did not imagine
that any one man could possibly write out four hundred complete copies
of the Pentateuch.)
THE TALMUD, _Bava Bathra_, fol. 14, col. 1.