The dybbuk box, or dibbuk box (Hebrew: קופסאת דיבוק, Kufsat Dibbuk), is a wine cabinet which is said to be haunted by a dybbuk. A dybbuk is a restless, usually malicious, spirit believed to be able to haunt and even possess the living. The box achieved recognition when it was auctioned on eBay with an accompanying horror story written by Kevin Mannis, and is the original inspiration for the 2012 film The Possession.
Legend and history
The term "Dibbuk Box" was first created and used by Kevin Mannis to describe a wine cabinet in the item information for an eBay auction and as the subject of his original story describing paranormal events which he related to the box. Mannis, a writer and creative professional by trade, owned a small antiques and furniture refinishing business in Portland, Oregon at the time. According to Mannis' story, he bought the box at an estate sale in 2003. It had belonged to a Polish Holocaust survivor named Havela, who had escaped to Spain and purchased it there before her immigration to the United States. Havela's granddaughter told Mannis that the box had been bought in Spain after the Holocaust. Upon hearing that the box was a family heirloom, Mannis offered to give the box back to the family but the granddaughter insisted that he take it. "We don't want it." She said. She told him the box had been kept in her grandmother's sewing room and was never opened because a dybbuk was said to live inside it.
Upon opening the box, Mannis wrote that he found that it contained two 1920s pennies, a lock of blonde hair bound with cord, a lock of black/brown hair bound with cord, a small statue engraved with the Hebrew word "Shalom", a small, golden wine goblet, one dried rose bud, and a single candle holder with four octopus-shaped legs.
Numerous owners of the box have reported that strange phenomena accompany it. In his story, Mannis wrote that he experienced a series of horrific nightmares shared with other people while they were in possession of the box or when they stayed at his home while he had it. His mother suffered a stroke on the same day he gave her the box as a birthday present — October 28. Every owner of the box has reported that smells of cat urine or jasmine flowers and nightmares involving an old hag accompany the box. Iosif Neitzke, a Missouri student at Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri and the last person to auction the box on eBay, claimed that the box caused lights to burn out in his house and his hair to fall out. Jason Haxton, Director of the Museum of Osteopathic Medicine in Kirksville, Missouri, had been following Neitzke's blogs regarding the box and when he was ready to be rid of the box Neitzke sold it to Haxton. Haxton wrote The Dibbuk Box, and claimed that he subsequently developed strange health problems, including hives, coughing up blood, and "head-to-toe welts". Haxton consulted with Rabbis (Jewish religious leaders) to try to figure out a way to seal the dybbuk in the box again. Apparently successful, he took the freshly resealed box and hid it at a secret location, which he will not reveal.
Skeptic Chris French, head of the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit at Goldsmiths' College, told an interviewer he believed that the box's owners were "already primed to be looking out for bad stuff. If you believe you have been cursed, then inevitably you explain the bad stuff that happens in terms of what you perceive to be the cause. Put it like this: I would be happy to own this object."
In popular culture
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- The box is the subject of a 2012 Sam Raimi film by Ghost House Pictures, entitled The Possession, starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Kyra Sedgwick and Natasha Calis and directed by Ole Bornedal. The script was written by Juliet Snowden and Stiles White and was based on an Los Angeles Times article by Leslie Gornstein, which told the story of the Dybbuk box after the first eBay auction. Mannis and Haxton served as production consultants.
- Mannis' original story about the Dibbuk Box and the events that followed his eBay sale have been featured on the Mysterious Universe podcast.
- The box's story has been covered in an episode of Syfy's Paranormal Witness.
- On Paranormal Insider Radio, from the Paranormal Research Society of A&E's Paranormal State and hosted by Alex Matsuo, Kevin Mannis and Jason Haxton were brought on as guests on the show and there were reports of unexplained voices, heavy breathing, and connection issues, especially when Matsuo discussed the option of destroying the box.
- Kevin Mannis (September 2, 2009). "The Dibbuk Box, A.K.A. The Haunted Jewish Wine Cabinet". Yahoo. Retrieved July 29, 2012.
- "TONIGHT (7-21) on Paranormal Underground Radio We Talk About the Haunted Dibbuk Box". Paranormal Underground. July 21, 2011. Retrieved July 29, 2012.
- Max Gross (February 13, 2004). "A Box Full of Bad Luck: Haunted Wine Cabinet Goes to Highest Bidder". The Forward.
- Leslie Gornstein (July 25, 2004). "A jinx in a box?; Maybe mischievous spirits do haunt this Jewish scroll cabinet, or maybe it's just another Web-spawned legend run wild.". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 31, 2010.
- Collis, Clark. "Little Box of Horrors." Entertainment Weekly, August 3, 2012, pp. 50-55.
- "Paranormal Witness Episode "Dybbuk Box"". SYFY.
- CATHY DUNKLEY and NICOLE LaPORTE (October 26, 2004). "Horror unit will unlock new 'Box'". Daily Variety.
- Nicole LaPorte (October 30, 2006). "Brand New World for Scribes". Variety.
- "Episode 209 Mysterious Universe".
- "Episode 524 Mysterious Universe".
- Syfy's Paranormal Witness Returns in August Dread Central
- "Paranormal Insider Radio - The Dibbuk Box: From Personal Hell to the Big Screen".