The Dybbuk is marketed as one of the most haunted objects in the World. It currently sits behind a glass protective case in reality television's Zak Bagans of Ghost Adventures Haunted Museum. Guests must sign a disclaimer that they take full responsibility for any harm that comes to them from entering the museum and viewing items such as the Dybbuk Box. They enter at their own risk. So what is the story of the Dybbuk box?
Firstly let's look at what a ‘Dybbuk’ is. In Hebrew it means ‘Cling’ and in Jewish folklore, a Dybbuk refers to a malicious spirit that is bound to the earth with the intention to possess a living person to cause harm. This is the important part – it is NOT and I repeat it is NOT a demon! Jewish folklore has many different terms for different kinds of spirits and even for demons. None of these are ‘Dybbuk’. I am by no means an expert on Judaism so I am not going to pretend I am and leave the translation at just that.
In 2003 a man called Kevin Mannis put a wine box up for sale on Ebay. I would post the whole description but it is several pages long. If you would like to read the whole post that was put on ebay you can find it at www.dibbukbox.com/story (even this does not contain the complete post but does offer a link to the official book on the dybbuk box It is really quite dramatized and elaborate and of course sold as a ‘haunted’ item. Luckily I have done all of the hard work reading for you and I am going to summarise it for you.
In 2001, Kevin went to a yard sale or garage sale as we would call here in Australia, and came across the box. He is a used furniture dealer so makes sense that he is a regular at these types of sales. The family of a woman who had recently passed away at the age of 103 was selling her things. The family explained that this woman was born and raised in Poland, married, and started a family and unfortunately because of the era was sent to a Nazi concentration camp during World War 2. Tragically all of her family were killed and she was the only survivor. She and some other prisoners escaped and lived in Spain until the end of the war. She somehow acquired a wine cabinet during her time in Spain(which would soon become the Dybbuk box) and it was one of only three positions she brought with her when she immigrated to America. The grandaughter of this lady told Kevin that growing up she was never allowed to touch the box, definitely not to open the box, and that her grandmother referred to it as the Dybbuk box and asked it to be buried with her. (Due to orthodox tradition her wish was not granted and the box was not buried with her). The family was very upset at the very thought of the box and wanted it gone.
Fast forward a little bit and things started to happen to Kevin and anyone who was around the box. Kevin immediately connected the dots and blamed the box. Kevin was going to refinish the box and of course, had to open it and see what was inside. Inside the box was:
Pennies from the late 1920’s
Locks of hair
A dried rosebud
An octopus candlestick holder
A golden wine cup
An engraving of the word ‘Shalom’ which is a salutation meaning ‘peace’ for when you greet or say goodbye to someone.
There was also an engraving in the back of the cabinet in Hebrew. Kevin didn’t refinish the box, just cleaned it up and gave it to his Mum who not long after suffered from a stroke. She managed to write him a note that said ‘Hate gift’ on it. He then gave it to his sister, his brother, and his girlfriend, all of who returned it to him for different reasons because they claimed it affected their lives in some way. No one wanted this cursed box and they all suffered nightmares of an ‘old hag’. A lot of things supposedly happened at the hands of the box that had these people’s lives in turmoil so instead of discarding the box, he put the item on eBay because he was too scared to destroy it. It was purchased for $140 by a student called Iosif Nietzke. He was a uni student that wrote blogs about his experience. He relisted it on eBay 8 months later with similar stories. In 2004 Jason Haxton bought the box for $280. He knew of Iosif Nietzke and the box as he followed the blog and jumped at the opportunity. He is the most well-known owner of the box as he wrote a book and made a website (the one I listed above).
FYI, researchers have not been able to find any trace that Isosif Nietzke was a real person. While it is possible a pseudonym was used, this is a possible red flag to the story.
Jason Haxton was responsible for essentially creating the 'lore' behind the Dybbuk box. He created a website, wrote a book, and appeared in documentaries and tv shows. Most people will have seen or heard about this box at some point. Haxton has had ‘paranormal experts’ conduct different experiments on the box (which of were televised or written about). In August 2012, the Dybbuk box was the subject of an episode of the popular program Paranormal Witness which is where its fame began.
Haxton claimed that it gave him physical problems but in some interviews on YouTube, however, also claimed that it had anti-aging benefits as well.
He partnered with Kevin Mannis on these ventures and they made money from selling the 'lore' or the story of the box, and likely still do. The blockbuster movie ‘The Possession’ was based loosely on this whole story. Eventually, Haxton could not put up with all of the bad things that he felt were happening as a result of owning the box all became too much and he consulted with Rabbi to have the Dybbuk sealed back in the box and he buried it in an unknown location.
The box was dug up from its secret location for a special appearance of ‘Deadly Possessions’, Zak Bagan’s show on his haunted museum in 2017, which thrust the story of the Dybbuk box back into the spotlight. Not long after, it was announced that Bagan's had purchased the box for a large sum to be the main showcase at the Haunted Museum in Las Vegas.
There are now replica boxes all over the World with many for sale and I have to say that I am confident that there is no Dybbuk in them. Sadly, the haunted object game on eBay is quite strong and any 'Dybbuk box' you are buying on eBay is false. The real question I truely have is this ….. Do these guys genuinely believe this box is causing them all this misfortune? Did they make it all up or do they really believe the box is ruining their lives?
Skeptic Chris French spoke out and said if people are purposely looking for items with a reputation for causing harm, their mind is automatically going to think that anything bad that happens can be attributed to the box. Have to say I agree here.
During his own investigation on the Dybbuk Box, skeptical writer Kenny Biddle alludes to finding a confession from Kevin Mannis (something I have also seen widely reported from multiple sources) that the story itself was fabricated by Kevin Mannis. It would not be the first time a person has fabricated a story to sell a 'Haunted' object on eBay.
In a Facebook post to paranormal website Haunt ME in response to a copycat box, on October 24th, 2015, he writes
I am the original creator of the story of The Dibbuk Box which appeared as one of my Ebay posts back in 2003. The idea that dibbuk boxes have some kind of history prior to my story, and the idea that a dibbuk box could contain anything other than a dibbuk, along with any deviation to the type of contents I created to be found inside of a dibbuk box is laughable at best. How about this- if you or anyone else can find any reference to a Dibbut [sic] Box anywhere in history prior to my Ebay post, I’ll pay you $100,000.00 and tattoo your name on my forehead.
Kenny's full article is below with screenshots of the post plus his own research that I did not want to publish as it was not my own research and I want the credit to go to the source.
The post on Facebook has since been removed with claims that it was misinterpreted, however again I encourage you to do your own research and make up your mind.
In terms of the Dybbuk Box, while I haven't been exposed to the box directly, the story has some definite red flags for me (including as it seems a confession). I am not convinced it is the most haunted object in the world, however, I have not investigated it so I cannot say either way. Would I head to Las Vegas and see it at the Haunted Museum? Yes of course I would as a person who LOVES all things paranormal. While I am quite skeptical about a lot of things when it comes to the paranormal, I also have an open mind and would try anything for myself.
If the story behind it was fabricated, that doesn't mean there is not something going on. The power of the mind is extremely powerful to the point that a person can indeed manifest their own ghost. Look at the Philip experiment where a group of parapsychologists supposedly created a fake ghost using only the power of their mind? If people day in and day out are continuously fueling the lore with their fear, are they unintentionally creating something? Was the box just a box when it all started yet the power of the mind has made it a feared and haunted object?
Check out more about the Philip experiment here: https://llifs.com.au/blog/the-phillip-experiement/
Many people also claim to have similar boxes. While they are not the original dybbuk box, again are they creating their own haunting with intent? Or is it just that people are the masters of their own destiny so to speak and set themselves up to believe that anything that happens is related to the box simply because they believe it is haunted?
The biggest thing to take away from this is that traditionally a Dybbuk is NOT a demon. I also have to wonder why if the box was so dangerous it was continuously dug up for television and media opportunities? Don't buy into the hype, do your own research and make up your own mind!
Update July 2021: The original creator of the Dybbuk Bok Kevin Mannis has in fact confessed it was all a story he made up. You can read the full article here: https://www.inputmag.com/features/dybbuk-box-dibbuk-kevin-mannis-zak-bagans-haunted-hoax-revealed
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