Two holidays are so special that the preceding Shabbat has special significance: The Shabbat before Pesach is known as Shabbat Hagadol, and the Shabbat before Yom Kippur is called Shabbat Shuvah. The rabbi always gives a special shiur on the other two special sabbaths. Tomorrow he will be speaking on the approach to Torah study of Rabbi Schneuer Zalman of Liady, author of the Tanya.
The rabbi wrote that the Shabbat before Shavuot was known in ancient times as Shabbat Kallah. The giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, celebrated on Shavuot, is a symbolic marriage between God, the groom, and the Jewish people, the bride. The Torah is also considered the bride of the Jewish people.
In the book of Jeremiah, the nation of Jewish idol worshippers is compared to an unfaithful wife. (The women in our study group, which began studying Jeremiah several months ago, don’t like this analogy at all.)
Shabbat: Sabbath. Pesach: Passover. Shabbat Hagadol and Shabbat Shuvah are named after the haftarah (prophetic reading) read in synagogue on those days and mean, respectively, the great Sabbath and the Sabbath of repentance. Shiur: Lecture on Jewish texts. Shabbat Kallah: Sabbath of the bride. Shavuot: Pentecost.