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Reach Out to Someone You Love

05/07/2020 08:19:34 AM


Rabbi Brad Levenberg

I don’t know much about sports. But I know about Bear Bryant.

Bear Bryant was the coach of the University of Alabama football team, one of the most successful football coaches of all time. Many years ago, the Southern Bell Telephone Company came up with a great idea for an ad. Since everyone in the South at the time (and many still do today!) knew Bear Bryant and revered him, they wondered, what if they could get him to do a commercial endorsing their phone company?

So they negotiated a contract with his agent and arranged for Bear Bryant to come to the television studio on such-and-such a date, at such-and-such a time, and stand in front of the camera and, with that angry look for which he was so famous, growl three words into the camera. The three words were: call your momma!

The day came, Coach Bryant showed up, they practiced the shot, the lights went on and then a camera rolled. Bear Bryant looked into the camera and suddenly his eyes were wet. And instead of growling as he was supposed to, he said, in a soft and tender voice: “Have you called your Momma today? I sure wish I could call mine.” (You can see the ad here:

That ad with its four unrehearsed extra words turned out to be the most successful ad in the history of the telephone company. I think we can understand why. It reminds all us who have lost family members of how much we miss them, and it reminds all of us who still have our loved ones never to take them for granted.

I share Coach Bryant's story with you on this Shabbat before Mother’s Day because I think that this is a time when we are not only attuned to our mothers but to our entire family. Thinking about Mom often allows us to recall vivid memories of time spent not only with her but together with other members of our family. We think about those whom we have lost and those who are still just a Zoom-room away.

So this Shabbat, and this week where our Omer counting blessings are framed with reflections reminding us of the importance of family, let’s listen to the words of Coach Bryant: While we still can, let us reach out to someone whom we love.

Shabbat Shalom

Wed, December 2 2020 16 Kislev 5781