Does Halacha recognize the notion of someone being liable for “public nuisance”? In secular law, a public nuisance is generally defined as someone who is doing something which is significantly disruptive to the rights of the public. For example, someone doesn’t have to hurt someone physically to be a public nuisance by say blasting extremely loud speakers in public areas in a disruptive manner.

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Rabbi Jack Abramowitz in his series called "HaShoneh Halachos" on Orthodox Union writes:

If one's neighbor has a headache and the sound of hammering would make it worse, then one may not pound grain even in one's own home so that the noise will not reach the neighbor's home and disturb him.


There are many other things when it comes to damages that a person might potentially cause his neighbor, or to the public. The general principle is that one is not permitted to do anything - even in his own domain and all the more so in a public place - that could cause damage to a neighbor or to passersby in the public thoroughfare unless it's something that has become accepted for everyone to do. In such a case, their actions are considered approved of by all the inhabitants of the city.

With regard to noise-issues, and when people in the neighborhood are complaining about it, refer for example to Choshen Mishpat 156:2, where it says, with regard to noise and a shop:

חנות שבחצר יכולים השכנים למחות בידו ולומר לו אין אנו יכולים לישן מקול הנכנסים והיוצאים אלא עושה מלאכתו בחנותו ומוכר לשוק אבל אינם יכולים למחות בידו ולומר אין אנו יכולים לישן מקול הפטיש או מקול הריחים מאחר שכבר החזיק לעשות כן ולא מיחו בידו Regarding a shop in a courtyard, the neighbors can object and say to [the shopkeeper]: We cannot sleep owing to the noise of those coming and going, but rather he must do his work in his shop, but sell in the marketplace. But they cannot object and say: We cannot sleep owing to the noise of your hammer or the noise of your millstones, since he already acquired a chazaka to act in this manner, and they did not object.

Rav Shlomy Levy, over at Yeshivat Torat HarEtzion, summarizes:

In any event, to summarize, normal noise that is not considered exceptional is permitted, while unusual noise is forbidden. A person is permitted to raise children in his house, even if they make noise, but he cannot suddenly turn his house into a dormitory that produces substantial noise for the entire neighborhood. Certain types of nuisance are generally accepted today, but Halakha prohibits them, and so they are forbidden, such as the damage of overlooking, a foul smell, and the like.

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