When Korach and his followers refused to back down, G‑d sent forth fire to consume the people who had offered up incense; the rest of the rebels were swallowed up in pits that opened up in the ground. The following day, the Jewish people complained about the rebels’ fate. They asserted that the incense was an instrument of death. To demonstrate their error and to punish those who still adhered to Korach’s mistaken beliefs, G‑d unleashed an epidemic, which started killing people instantaneously. He then instructed Aaron to stave off this epidemic by offering up incense, proving that when used in G‑d’s service, it promotes life and saves from death.
Killing Death
וַיִּתֵּן אֶת הַקְּטֹרֶת וַיְכַפֵּר עַל הָעָם: (במדבר יז:יב)
[Aaron] placed the incense [on the censer] and atoned for the people. Numbers 17:12

Smell is the most “spiritual” of our five senses; it can transport us to the loftiest levels of consciousness, and it can be used to restore consciousness to people who have fainted. For this reason, the incense in the Tabernacle expressed our inner unity with G‑d.

When this lofty experience of oneness with G‑d is balanced by humble submission to His will, it is positive; when it outweighs our devotion to G‑d’s will, it becomes suicidal and therefore negative. Thus, when incense was offered up out of the selfish desire to escape reality and responsibility, it proved fatal.

The antidote to this misguided “suicidal” drive is to channel it positively. By persistently choosing to “give up our lives” – i.e., our selfish involvement with unholy enticements – in favor of studying the Torah with humility, the Torah becomes part of us and will remain with us.1