An ultra-Orthodox case that is anything but

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It’s not about religion.

So said Assistant U.S. Attorney R. Joseph Gribko in a story that USA Today published Friday regarding a divorce sting.

Only, this particular divorce sting was spearheaded by an undercover FBI agent posing as a Jewish Orthodox wife trying to obtain a “get,” or religious divorce decree, from her fictitious and uncooperative husband. And she allegedly was charged up to $100,000 for the brutal means necessary — handcuffs, electric cattle prods — to obtain it. Ten were arrested, including two rabbis.

Yeah, it’s about religion.

Orthodox Judaism is the most conservative of the three major branches of Judaism and strictly adheres to traditional teachings and acceptance of Jewish principles of faith and law. In the matter of divorce, Jewish law requires a husband to present a get to his wife in order to be issued a divorce, citing Deuteronomy 24:1-2:

“When a man marries a woman or possesses her, if she is displeasing to him …, he shall write her a bill of divorce and place it in her hand, thus releasing her from his household. When she thus leaves his household, she may go and marry another man.”

The story also has appeared in The New York Times, the New York Daily NewsCNN’s Belief Blog and The Associated Press, among other outlets. In other words, it’s getting a lot of attention.

Who does the best job of explaining the complexities of the issue and exploring the case?

That depends on whether you’re an expert on Orthodox Judaism (I’m not) or an interested reader (I am).

The Times excels at providing the pertinent facts but also some context and a timeline. It was the only story that layered in enough history to help readers understand why the FBI became involved  after years of claims by those in the ultra-Orthodox community. It also best addressed the clash of religious versus civil law:

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