Last year, I posted about a song often sung during Hakafos. The song's first two lines are:
Olam Habah is a gutta zach
Learning Torah is a besser zach...
(Translation: The World to Come is a good thing, learning Torah is a better thing...)
As I explained last year, I didn't understand the rationale behind the song.
As it turns out, before the fifth Hakafah on Simchas Torah, the rav of my shul stopped and explained the song's origin.
The song, he explained, was written by R. Chaim Volozhin. His rebbe, the Vilna Goan, passed away on Chol HaMoel Sukkos in 1797. He was afraid that the students in his yeshiva would not be able to properly celebrate Simchas Torah having just lost such an esteemed rebbi. He therefore composed this song to show that while Olam Habah (which the GRA certainly attained) was a good thing, celebrating the Torah was also a cause for joy.
I'm still not sure that I agree with the implications of the song, but at least now I have a better understanding and appreciation of it.