On Thursday, Itzik got into his little Smart car, made sure he had enough gas, and drove south out of the city. The original road alongside the shrinking Dead Sea was dotted with sinkholes, and for every sinkhole, the highway authority had brilliantly created another detour, such that the road now snaked wildly around the holes. 

Just three months ago he’d been on this same route, feeling alone, hurt, and hopeless. He’d almost wished some nice, deep sinkhole would open its maw and swallow him up. Now, he drove more carefully than ever, decelerating at every sharp turn. He had no desire whatsoever to be swallowed up in a pit of salt and sand.

He waved hello toward Masada, crossed the desert, and after three hours of meditative driving, he was in Yotvata, greeting the receptionist.

“Is Yoav here?” he asked.

The receptionist shot a glance at him. “Hey!” he cried. “Aren’t you the one who brought the doe and her fawn here, on the day of the oil spill?”

“That’s me,” said Itzik. “I came back to visit them. You still remember me from that day three months ago?”

“Not really. But I recognized your face from the pictures.”

“Huh?”

The receptionist broke out in a smile. “Aran Dolev took pictures that day at Evrona,” he said. “He sent them to the magazine Kol HaAravah. We were all talking about it — it was great, we got such nice coverage. Here, I’ve got them saved on the computer.”

In a moment, a slideshow was moving across the screen, one picture dissolving into the next. Itzik recognized himself in a few of them. The last shot showed him in his car, with the hills of Moav in the background and the injured doe nestled in the passenger seat beside him.

“Beautiful picture,” said Yoav, who’d just stepped out to join them. He’d been expecting Itzik. “You wanted to check up on the doe and her baby, right? Come into my car, I’m sure we’ll be able to find them pretty quickly.” He looked again at the screen and bit his lip. “You heard that Aran Dolev, the photographer, got slapped with a stiff fine after the photo was published?”

“A fine for what?” Itzik asked, looking again at the picture.

“For ‘damaging the environment’ and ‘going off the designated paths in a nature reserve,’ ” Yoav scoffed.

“What?!” Itzik bristled at the injustice. “Damaging the environment? The whole place was already as damaged as a place could be.” In his mind’s eye, he saw those rivers of crude oil once again, flowing everywhere, and the stench came back so vividly he nearly choked.

“Nu, go tell them that,” said Yoav. “Go tell the government that it’s ludicrous to sue a photographer for damage to the landscape when 50 million liters of crude oil are pouring out onto that landscape.”

The two men got into Yoav’s car, and he drove out toward the deer’s feeding ground.

“People around here think the government is just taking revenge,” Yoav said offhandedly. (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 713)