The mishnah in Sukkah (48b) tells of a Tzadukki who, on Sukkot, performed a service in the temple incorrectly and all the people in the temple stoned him to death with their esrogim. I would like to know how they were halachically allowed to do so instead of taking him to court and having the normal proceedings of a halachic capital case.

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    I don't recall anything in the Torah about stoning Tzedukim with Ethrogim. Maybe they weren't following protocol so closely on the court proceedings, either. – Seth J Dec 26 '13 at 4:08
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    Yoma 26 also talks about the etrog-pelting but doesn't say they stoned him to death. I see the same language on Sukkah 48, but I'm relying on translation so maybe something was lost? (Can etrogim even be fatal?) – Monica Cellio Dec 26 '13 at 4:14
  • To your last point, @MonicaCellio, doubtless they can be fatal. The bes hamikdash was crowded on Sukos. The fellow may have had an eggshell skull, too, I suppose. – msh210 Dec 26 '13 at 4:33
  • @MonicaCellio even if they were not those who threw them would be chayav for damages! – please remove my account Dec 26 '13 at 14:43
  • @pleaseremovemyaccount if there are damages, yes. I've never been pummeled by etrogim so I have to use my imagination, but it seems more like bumps & bruises & a dry-cleaning bill, y'know? (Though I grant the eggshell-skull possibility.) The question seems to assume that (a) this caused death and also (b) it was a halachically-proper response rather than a mob acting in the heat of the moment, and I'm not so sure either applies. – Monica Cellio Dec 26 '13 at 15:29

It's not a capital offense to perform a service in the temple incorrectly. So you don't have to assume that he was killed.

That said, the Mishna in Sanhedrin פרק ט - משנה ו mentions that if a Cohen performed the service while impure - the punishment for which is lashes by Bet Din - the Cohen Youth Movement would remove him from the temple and bash his head in with wooden sticks.

כֹּהֵן שֶׁשִּׁמֵּשׁ בְּטֻמְאָה, אֵין אֶחָיו הַכֹּהֲנִים מְבִיאִין אוֹתוֹ לְבֵית דִּין, אֶלָּא פִרְחֵי כְהֻנָּה מוֹצִיאִין אוֹתוֹ חוּץ לָעֲזָרָה וּמַפְצִיעִין אֶת מֹחוֹ בִּגְזִירִין‏

So there is a precedent for the enraged to kill somebody who doesn't do the service correctly.

There are actually 3 other cases in that Mishna of people who are killed by the enraged rather than being punished by Bet Din:

הַגּוֹנֵב אֶת הַקַּסְוָה וְהַמְקַלֵּל בַּקּוֹסֵם וְהַבּוֹעֵל אֲרַמִּית, קַנָּאִין פּוֹגְעִין בּוֹ

  • One who steals a temple vessel
  • One who curses the Lord with the name of an idol
  • One who has marital relations with a non-Jewess

So the concept of extra-Bet-Din execution by the enraged is not unheard of in Judaism.

  • Looks like a comment not an answer. If a user is enraged by this, he can't kill you :) because the halakhot of kannain pogin bo are strictly delineated, luckily. They do not include the case at hand. – mevaqesh Feb 7 '17 at 23:20

Avodah Zarah 26b:

המינין והמסורות והמומרים היו מורידין ולא מעלין

Heretics, informers, and sinners to anger Hashem - we kill them and do not save them.

As the Kohen showed that he's a Tzeduki, he qualifies as a heretic and therefore may be killed without a court case.

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