If you were browsing through eBay and you came across an object that was advertised as “haunted”, what would you think? Would you believe the seller’s claims that the object was haunted or would you be skeptical? And, if you believed that it was haunted, would you be more likely to buy it or to stay away? Well, apparently, for some people, the fact that an object is haunted is reason enough for them to spend their hard-earned cash on it. And that’s exactly why Jason Haxton purchased the dybbuk box, a creepy wine cabinet said to be inhabited by a wandering soul from Jewish mythology, on eBay in 2003.
The tale of the dybbuk box has its foundations in the writings of Jewish historians and mystics that date back thousands of years. However, there’s been a resurgence in the popularity of this myth in recent decades ever since the dybbuk box was trading hands back in the early 2000s. Since then, numerous films have been made about the box and you can now see the actual dybbuk box in a museum in Las Vegas.
So, if you’re still skeptical about whether an old wine cabinet can really be haunted and, if so, why people would sell it on eBay, let’s dive deeper into the legend of the dybbuk box.
What Is a Dybbuk?
The concept of the dybbuk comes from Jewish mythology. The word “dybbuk” translates to Hebrew as “cling” or “adhere” and these spirits have earned this name because they’re believed to cling to the bodies of the living and possess them. The concept of the dybbuk can be found in literature as far back as the writings of Josephus, who was born in the year 37 A.D.
Originally, these dybbuks were normal, living people who walked the Earth. However, after death, their souls became dislocated from their bodies because of certain sins that they committed during their lifetimes. Thus, these lonely souls roam the universe in search of a new body to inhabit (a concept known as “soul transmigration”).
Widespread belief in dybbuks didn’t come about until the 16th century, in particular, when a Jewish mystic named Isaac Luria began preaching about reincarnation and soul transmigration. He told his Kabbalistic disciples that souls continued to cycle through lives and incarnations after the body had died, continuing their journey toward perfection. Sometimes, these wandering souls would occupy a living body even if another soul was present in that body. These souls became known as dybbuks.
According to Jewish mysticism, the only way to drive a dybbuk from a living body was for a rabbi to perform the rite of exorcism.
The Dybbuk Box
So, as you can see, the mythology of the dybbuk dates back centuries, certainly before anyone could possibly conceptualize the internet. However, this idea has survived into the modern world and has taken on a new life in a very unexpected place: eBay.
Yes, the story of the so-called “dybbuk box” begins with a guy named Kevin Mannis listing a wine cabinet on eBay. In his listing, Mannis decided that he would include the cabinet’s incredible backstory. According to Mannis, he had purchased the box from the estate sale of a 103-year-old Polish woman who had acquired the cabinet in Spain after escaping a Nazi concentration camp during the Holocaust.
As the story goes, Mannis learned from a relative of the old Jewish woman that the box was never to be opened, but he did not take this advice. When he opened up the cabinet, he found some very strange items inside: several locks of hair, a granite statue engraved with Hebrew writing, a dried-out rosebud, a few pennies, a golden goblet, and a black candlestick holder with octopus tentacles carved into it. Apparently, by opening up the box, Mannis gave the dybbuk that lived within free rein to wreak havoc. Mannis claimed to have seen ghosts in his home, he claimed that the dybbuk was responsible for making those around him sick, and, in one case, he even blamed the dybbuk for causing a stroke.
So, rather than finding some way to dispose of this box (like a responsible human being), Mannis decided to list it on eBay and see if he could pass on his woes to some sucker. Well, that sucker was a Missouri student named Iosif Nietzke who bought the box for $140 in 2003. The details of what happened to Nietzke are pretty unclear; however, we do know that he relisted the box on eBay just months after buying it. So, it’s safe to say that Nietzke did not want this cursed wine cabinet in his possession anymore.
The next unfortunate buyer of the dybbuk box was a man named Jason Haxton, who was the director of the Museum of Osteopathic Medicine at A. T. Still University in Missouri. Apparently, Haxton first heard about the box from a friend of Iosif Nietzke’s and decided to find it on eBay and buy it, a decision he would come to regret almost immediately.
In an interview Haxton gave to My San Antonio in 2012, he said, “The day it arrived, I put my hands on it, and it almost feels like the thing collapses into a liquid state. I feel like a knife is coming into my gut. I’m paralyzed in pain. When I go to bed, I have terrible dreams of a hag that seems to come with the box.”
After allegedly suffering years of torment because of the box, Jason Haxton decided to start a website and write a book titled The Dibbuk Box, both of which enjoyed a relatively large amount of commercial success. In the book, Haxton details horrific events such as awakening to blood coming out of his eyes, choking on nothing more than water, and forming hives and welts that seemed to span his entire body.
In 2016, Haxton donated the box to Zak Bagans, star of the TV show Ghost Adventures. The box is now displayed in The Haunted Museum in Las Vegas, which is owned by Bagans.
It’s unclear whether these events really happened to Jason Haxton; however, Kevin Mannis did go on the record in 2021 saying that his version of the dybbuk box story was completely fictional. So, there’s a pretty good chance that the story of the dybbuk box may be nothing more than the story of a creepy-looking wine cabinet and a guy who likes to write horror fiction. Nevertheless, the dybbuk box has had a rather large impact on pop culture, particularly in the last few years.
The Dybbuk Box In Pop Culture
As I mentioned, the concept of the dybbuk has been around nearly since the dawn of history; however, the first time it made its way into popular media was when a Jewish playwright named S. Ansky wrote a play called The Dybbuk, which made its stage debut in 1920. Eventually, the play was adapted into a film in 1937, marking the first time that a dybbuk would ever haunt the silver screen. But it wouldn’t be the last.
In 2012, the supernatural horror film The Possession hit theatres. The film was loosely based on the events included in the urban legend surrounding the dybbuk box. No, the main character didn’t purchase the box on eBay (or any other online marketplace). Instead, she buys it at a yard sale. I bet you can guess what happens next. All sorts of creepy occurrences take place and, yes, there is a possession.
On top of that, several other movies have been made that are loosely based on the story of the dybbuk box, some of them even in other countries. The 2017 Indian Malayalam-language film Ezra is based on the legend of the dybbuk box. And, in 2021, an Indian Hindi-language film simply titled Dybbuk was made as a remake of Ezra.
Personally, out of the aforementioned films, I’ve only seen The Possession, which I thought was a great horror movie. I suppose that, whether or not there’s any truth to the story of the dybbuk box, it makes for some pretty good cinema.
As a final note, my personal favorite tidbit about the dybbuk box is that fans of rapper Post Malone began blaming his bad luck on an encounter with the dybbuk box in 2018. Apparently, the tires on his plane exploded, he got in a car accident in his Rolls-Royce, and his house got broken into by robbers, all shortly after he came in contact with the dybbuk box at The Haunted Museum in Las Vegas. Were Post Malone’s misfortunes the work of the dybbuk box? You tell me.