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Making Berachot on the Animals in a Zoo

To date I have not made berachot on animals I have seen in the zoo, but it seems from sifrei halacha that one should. Should I start doing so, and, if so, what are the basic rules?

Going to the Courts Where There Is No Beit Din

I am a lawyer in a country with a small Jewish population, in which when we need a din Torah, we fly someone in from another country. A Jew who is suing another Jew asked me to represent him, and the dispute is on a modest amount of money, which is less than the cost of bringing a beit din. May we sue in non-Jewish courts?

Eating Contests

Please state your opinion on whether eating contests violate any prohibitions such as bal tashchit? (I am a reporter writing an article.) Is there a difference between contests of volume (e.g., tens of hot dogs in ten minutes) and of speed (e.g., eating three hot dogs fastest)?

Pay for Cancelled Summer Camps

During Operation Tzuk Eitan, when summer camps were cancelled because campsites were not missile-proof, do the parents have to pay anyway? Does it make a difference if they already paid? [We answered this question during the fighting, but the halachic and moral concepts can be applied even after its hopefully successful conclusion.]

Restrictions of Motzaei Tisha BAv

What restrictions of Tisha BAv/Nine Days exist after Tisha BAv and until when?

Is a Professional Believed About the Time He Put In

I sent my computer to a technician to repair serious problems. He was unwilling to tell me his charge in advance, claiming it depended on how long it would take him, to which he would not commit. After fixing the computer, he charged me what I consider an exorbitant price. I am not sure I trust him on how much work he put in. Must I pay without making an issue of it?

Buying Land for Shemitta

A group is giving the opportunity to buy agricultural land in Israel for the Shemitta year. Is that worthwhile?

A Loan/Investment that Needs a Heter Iska After Its Inception

I have an ongoing arrangement by which a friend loans me thousands of dollars to use for my business at a fixed rate of interest. I think (but am not sure) that we agreed to have a heter iska (I cant find one), but it is possible it was only agreed orally. Some money has been paid, and some is still owed. What should I do at this point?

A Fading Ketuba

In our ketuba, the witnesses names have faded over the years to the point that they are barely legible. Is this a problem (we got married in Israel, so the Rabbanut has a copy of the ketuba)? Can I (the husband) ask the witnesses to resign their names? If not, what should be done?

Permissibility of a Personal Beracha

I am often overjoyed that Hashem granted me the zechut to live in Israel for many years, causing me to make a spontaneous beracha. A friend told me it is forbidden to compose my own berachot, as one can only use those Chazal composed. Is Judaism not all about thanking Hashem for all the wonders of creations and providence? Would I be precluded from thanking Hashem for something important to me?
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