Happy Noise

Question

Simcha enjoys singing on Shabbos. Every week he invites a group of young
men to join him in loud, enthusiastic song till very late at night. His neighbour,
Chaggai, and his family want to sleep, but the noise emanating from the neighbour's
apartment disturbs their slumber. Can Chaggai object to the weekly late night
singing? Chaggai's brother got married and he made sheva brochos (festive
meal during the week after marriage) for the new couple. The festivities continued
till after midnight. The next morning, Simcha met him with a victorious smile.
"If I didn't object to your late night singing, you can not object to mine!"
Is his comparison valid?


Answer

Reuven opened up a shop in a courtyard which he shared with
other residents. One of the neighbours complained that he is unable to sleep
on account of the noise created by the customers. The Shulchan Oruch
(Choshen Mishpot 156:2) rules that the neighbour's objection is upheld
and the shopkeeper must sell his wares elsewhere. Furthermore, the neighbours
even have the right to object if he makes noise while manufacturing his
wares. However, if he established his noisy manufacturing without objection,
the neighbours are unable to raise their objections at a later date. The
Remo
disagrees. He is of the opinion that as long as the noise-making
activities take place within the confines of Reuven's own premises, the neighbours
have no right to object. Nevertheless, if the neighbour's grounds for objection
are that the noise harms his health, Reuven will have to cease his noisy activity
even if it takes place within his own home.

We see that the Shulchan Oruch considers disturbing
the peace and tranquility of the neighbour's home as a form of damage to which
he can object. Even though the Remo disagrees with the basic premise,
he will not permit the neighbour to make noise in his own home at a time when
people generally go to sleep (see Ibid. 155:15, based on the same responsum
of the Rivosh). In those countries where it is customary to take an afternoon
siesta, this would include this rest period as well (Kesef Kodoshim 156:2).
The truth is, says the Emek Hamishpot (3:34:15), that being able to get
adequate sleep is essential for people in general. To be deprived of sleep makes
them ill, causing them severe headaches, overtiredness, etc. and prevents them
from functioning properly during the rest of the day. He asserts that making
noise which leads to sleep deprivation falls into the category of "severe harm
which is unendurable", to which all will agree he can object (see Remo
155:39).

Are all types of noise forbidden during times designated
for sleeping? Can your neighbour object to your little children taking turns
to cry in the middle of the night? The Chazon Ish (Bovo Basro
13:11) explains that when the Rivosh states that neighbours can object
to noise being made during rest periods, he is only referring to the sound of
tools, etc., activities which are not part of average domestic use of one's
home. However, if the noise is generated through normal use of one's home, even
a sick neighbour has no right to object (although one should try to minimize
such disturbance if possible). Accordingly, since it is usual for a person to
host a celebration in his home from time to time, neighbours would not have
the right to object if such festivities generated some late night noise (within
reason). On the other hand, weekly late-night
singing sessions are not the norm in private homes (but could be in shuls!).
We can therefore conclude that Chaggai can object to Simcha's weekly communal
singing, even though Simcha has to accept that Chaggai's sheva brochos
ended late at night.