Bava Batra, Chapter Two, Mishnah Four
Mishnah four discusses how far a person must distance his wall from his neighbors walls.
1) If ones wall was adjacent to his friends wall he may not build another wall adjoining it unless it is at a distance of four cubits.
2) And [if he builds a wall opposite his friends] windows, whether it is higher or lower than them or level with them, it may not be within four cubits.
Section one: If a person already owns a wall adjacent to his friends wall, he may wish to add another wall, thereby creating a three walled structure. If he wishes to do that he must leave four cubits between the new wall and his friends wall in order that people will walk near his friends wall. It was believed that people walking near a wall would strengthen the foundations of the wall. If he didnt leave enough room next to his friends wall people would not walk there, thereby depriving his friend of that benefit.
Section two: If a person wishes to build a wall opposite another persons windows he must fulfill three conditions:
1) If the wall is higher than the window it must be more than four cubits higher so that he will not be able to use his wall to look into his friends window.
2) If the wall is lower than the window it must be more than four cubits lower so that he will not be able to stand on the wall and look into the window.
3) If it is across, it must be four cubits away so that it will not block the light going into the other window.
Questions for Further Thought:
· Why is the mishnah so concerned with people looking into other peoples windows? What does this teach us about privacy?