My neighbor strongly objects to my planting of a specfic grass type (Zoysia grass) saying that it will eventually overtake his lawn and he does not want Zoysia grass. Is there any Jewish moral reason why I must be considerate of his feelings?
Jewish law requires that any nuisance done on my property be kept at sufficient distance so that it does not negatively impact my neighbor as such a neighbor can ask for consideration in such a case.
The Talmud for example deals with winnowing grain where the chaff will carry to a neighbor's property and requires that reasonable precautions be used to prevent this that would seem to be the precedent in this case.
Answered by: Rabbi --- Not Active with JVO Suspended
There are certain relationships that are extremely important to maintain. Being a good neighbor is of paramount importance from a values perspective.
Like in a marriage, good communication among neighbors is essential because there are many things that a neighbor could do that would have negative impact on your quality of life. For instance, a neighbor playing loud music will be disruptive to you. A neighbor's kid playing basketball in the early hours of the morning will be detrimental to your sleep. If your neighbor doesn't maintain the upkeep of his house it could affect your property value in negative ways.
In the case of your neighbor strongly objecting to you planting a certain type of grass, I would caution you from doing so. Legally speaking, you are likely within your rights to plant this type of grass. If and when it grows onto his property and overtakes his lawn, he will have a legal case against you. However, why not work to maintain good neighborly relations and acquiesce to his objection. I'm sure you can find an alternative grass type to plant that will look nice, but will not be so unruly as to overtake his lawn.
Jewish law is full of property rights and case law involving harm done by one neighbor to another. But in terms of Jewish values, I would recommend taking the moral high road and being a good neighbor.
If your action( planting Zoysia grass ) will affect your neighbor, then there is a Jewish moral reason to be considerate of his feeling. You have to be absolutely sure that there will be no ill effect from your grass to your neighbor’s lawn. While we Jews might disagree on ritual matters, I believe we concur when it comes to moral issues and this is one of them.
There is a midrash( rabbinic anecdote) that illustrates the above situation. Neighbor a had an apartment over neighbor b. After a monster rain , the ground settled and it was necessary to prop up the building underneath with supports. Neighbor b thought neighbor a should share in the expense of the repair. Neighbor a said he didn’t feel obligated as his property was unharmed. The Bet Din ( rabbinic court) ruled that neighbor a did have a responsibility to share in the cost on the grounds that his apartment now was invading the space of neighbor a.
I would suggest that the situation of neighbor a and neighbor b is analogous to your situation. Hillel put is quite succinctly, That which is hateful to you , do not do to others. Or, to quote my favorite Biblical passage, (Lev. 19) Love thy neighbor as thyself.
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