Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Dybbuk Box by Lily Verlaine

The scariest ghost story to emerge in the past decade about so called ‘cursed objects; is the tale of the dibbuk box. There have been quite a number of variations from different sources, but here’s the general story.

I was watching an episode of Paranormal Witness, I find it quite entertaining though I take most of what is said with a large pinch of salt, this particular episode was about a very nasty piece of furniture indeed, it was a wine cabinet which came to be known as The Dybbuk Box.

A dybbuk is a restless, usually malicious spirit which is believed to haunt and even posses the living. Once again it was eBay that helped the box gain it’s notoriety, and an accompanying horror story written by Kevin Mannis, which just like haunted Annabelle, inspired a film in 2012 entitled The Possession. Kevin Mannis who put the box on the auction site in 2003 wrote that he experienced a series of horrific nightmares which he shared with other people while he was in possession of the box or when they stayed at his home.

He had only just bought the box home and dropped it off at his workshop, when he received a phone call from his terrified shop keeper something was downstairs cursing and shattering light bulbs. His own mother suffered a stroke on the very day that he gave her the box as a birthday present, it was no wonder that she demanded he take the item back.

Everyone in his family who came into contact with the cabinet had a similar dream, that of an old hag who beat them, and they would wake up the following morning with bruises. There was always a strong smell of Jasmine flowers or cat urine around the box. Mannis began having bad luck, he was the victim of identity theft, and lost his store’s lease. He also began to start seeing a shadowy figure out of the corner of his eye. He decided to sell the box on eBay.

Iosif Neitzke a Missouri student at Truman State University in Kirksville, was the ‘lucky’ winner of the box at $140 but within a few months had put it back for sale on eBay. He claimed the box caused the electricity to fault in his house, lights were blown and laptops burnt out, he began to suffer severe hair loss over the course of one week and hoards of insects began to congregate in his rooms, he also saw a similar shadow figure and smelled the same odours.

Jason Haxton, was the Director of the Museum of Osteopathic Medicine in Kirksville, Missouri, he first heard the story via Neitzke’s roommate and began following Neitzke’s blogs regarding the box, he contacted him and bought the box for $280 in February of 2004.

He wasn’t the type of person to be afraid of an item like the dibbuk box, as he had never had any trouble from any of his collection of idols or juju’s. His museum is full of macabre items such as human skulls and preserved dead babies, and dissected body parts .Immediately after taking possession of the box he began to get ill, he wrote the book the Dibbuk Box, in which he claimed that immediately he began experiencing strange health problems, including hives, coughing up blood, and developed welts all over his body.

Haxton went back to the beginning to try and find out the history of the box and what was actually haunting it. He heard from al kinds of experts from rabbis and Kabbalah students to scientists. Wicca and demonologists tried to help solve the mystery of the box.

He contacted Kevin Mannis the man who had first put it on eBay, Mannis told him that he had bought the box in 2001 at an estate state in Portland Oregon. The items belonged to a lady named Havela who had passed away at the age of 103. A granddaughter of the woman told him her grandmother had been born and raised in Poland, she married and raised her own family until she was sent to a Nazi concentration camp. She was only the only survivor losing her entire family including her husband and children. She managed to escape with some other prisoners and made her way to Spain where she lived until the end of the war, before emigrating to the United States. She took only three items with her a streamer trunk, a sewing box and the wine cabinet.

The granddaughter then said to Mannis,

“I see you got the dibbuk box”.

Referring to the wine cabinet, Mannis asked her what a dibbuk was and she told him, that when she was growing up her grandmother always kept the wine cabinet in her sewing room it was always shut and always put out of place. The grandmother always called it a dibbuk box, and when the girl asked her what was inside her grandmother spit three times through her fingers and said, a dibbuk and keselim, she also told her, it was never, ever to be opened. Mannis felt bad at taking a family heirloom, and offered to give it back to which the girl almost became hysterical and said,

“We don’t want it the dibbuk lives inside!”

Mannis of course thought it was just superstition and took the box away with him. Upon opening the box, he found that it contained two US wheat pennies from 1925 and 1928, a lock of blonde hair bound with cord, and a lock of black/brown hair also bound in the same way. A granite slab 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. The back of the box has a Jewish prayer carved in Hebrew. As he explained to Haxton his problems with the box began straight away.

Haxton later discovered the origin of the box dated back to November the 9th 1938 when Havela and a group of women living in the Lodz ghetto during a séance attempted to contact a good spirit from ‘the other side’ to combat the Nazis’, instead they conjured up a demon which they managed to trap in the box. Or in another variation of this story Havela has a question for the spirits she wishes to know who caused the holocaust, unfortunately the spirit that she summoned up turned out to be a demon, which she managed to trap it the box, which nobody had a problem with until Mannis undid it.

Haxton learnt that in Jewish folklore the word “dybbuk”comes from Hebrew meaning “attachment”. The dybbuk (spirit) attaches itself to a living person and inhabits the flesh. According to Jewish belief, a soul that was unable to complete it’s mission during it’s lifetime is given another opportunity to do so as a dibbuk. After making a new life for herself in America, the woman had instructed her own children never to open the box and requested that it be buried with her, which of course it wasn’t, it instead finding it’s way into an estate sale.

Haxton doesn’t believe the box is evil but is troubled because it didn’t fulfil it’s mission, he also thinks he may have found the answer which he published in his book The Dibbuk Box.

Haxton discovered that in 1910 an American named Harry H. Laughlin who worked as a breeder at a Kirksville, Missouri farm was inspired by the idea of a pure race of people in the USA. He moved to the East Coast and began working with the United States government to create forced sterilization. It has gone down on record that Laughlin and his idealism influenced Hitler and Nazi Germany. Laughlin stopped Jews coming into the country in the 1930’s Hitler saw this and said,

“That’s a good idea, lets incorporate these laws”,

and that was the question Haxton believed that Havela asked the demon,

“Who influenced Hitler?”

The answer being an American from Kirksville by the name of Laughlin.

Haxton believes the box is quiet now because it’s fulfilled it’s purpose, it’s ended up back in Kirksville and everybody now knows it’s secrets. The long forgotten story of Laughlin’s defining role in the Holocaust has been unearthed. And now thanks to Haxton’s book that lost piece of history is getting world wide exposure.

Haxton at the advice of Rabbi’s and spiritual advisors locked the box in a wooden ark lined with 24 -caret gold and buried it in a secret location, so nobody else could ask it any questions!

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