Q. At this time of year some people in my block of apartments have social gatherings round the pool which are annoying with their noise and loud music. What does Jewish teaching say about neighbours and privacy?
One may not, for example, have a door or window directly facing those of a neighbour; when Bilam said, “How goodly are your tents, O Jacob, your dwelling-places, O Israel” (Num. 24:2-4), the rabbis say he was praising the fact that “the openings of their tents were not aligned one opposite the other” (Bava Batra 60a).
If partners divide a courtyard into two individual lots, each may require that the other share in building a dividing wall (B.B. 2a). All the neighbours are duty bound to respect and contribute towards the privacy and security of each other, and towards the protection of the city as a whole (B.B. 7b).
An unacceptable level of noise is in its own way an intrusion upon a neighbour’s privacy and rights of enjoyment, and in addition to protecting oneself from such intrusion, Jewish law obligates one to avoid personally carrying out such acts.