Ethics

For the week ending 4 February 2012 / 10 Shevat 5772

The Noisy Neighbor

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Question: I have a neighbor who seems to enjoy listening to loud music at an hour when I am trying to get to sleep. While I am interested in maintaining friendly relations with him, I do want to enjoy some peace and quiet as much as he enjoys the noise. What can I do?

Answer: You certainly have a case since neighbors should be sensitive to any irritation they may be causing to those living near them. Since your situation is one that can cause you to harbor a grudge against your noisy neighbor, you should follow the advice of Rambam (Hilchot Deot 6:6) who writes:

"When one man commits an injustice to the other, the victim should not remain silent and feel hatred, for that is the way of the wicked. It is rather a mitzvah for him to inform the other of his hurt and ask him why he did what he did."

By thus fulfilling the Torahs command to "reprove your neighbor" you offer the neighbor an opportunity to either explain that he was unaware that you were being hurt or at least to apologize and thus eliminate the disturbance and restore friendly relations.

A neighbor of mine, living directly above my apartment, used to disturb my efforts to get to sleep by making thumping noise (probably an exercise machine) above my bedroom. After writing him a note about this disturbance, I received a note from him promising to stop the noise but also calling to my attention the noise made by our washing machine on the porch in the early hours of the morning which disturbed his sleep.

The noise from both of us came to an end as a result of our "good neighbor policy".

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