Bsisa, a tasty Libyan and Tunisian tradition to begin the Passover season! The ritual is centered around a dish called the “Bsisa” which is made in a deep bowl and is filled with wheat, barley, dried fruits, honey, olive oil, and other sweets.
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(Bsisa Fact Sheet)
Bsisa 101: On Rosh Chodesh, the first day of Nisan , the Jewish month during which we celebrate Passover, Jews from Tunisia and Libya partake in a ritual called “Bsisa” or “El Bsisa.” The ritual serves as a bridge between the holidays of Purim and Passover and takes place entirely in the home. The ritual is centered around a dish called the “Bsisa” which is made in a deep bowl and is filled with wheat, barley, dried fruits, honey, oil and other sweets. The first day of the Jewish month of Nissan is traditionally understood to be the day of the dedication of the Mishkan.
״Bsisa״ The word “Bsisa” refers to the mixture of grains, dried fruits, honey, oil and sweets and is mixed together with a key and eaten on the first day of the Jewish month of Nissan.
When We celebrate Bsisa on the first day of the Jewish month of Nissan, which is the month in which we celebrate Passover.
The Rituals of Bsisa
Turning of the Key: In all communities the focal point of the ritual is the turning of a key in the Bsisa mixture while a blessing in Arabic is recited (see translation below).
Blessing: In addition to the traditional formulaic blessing, it was common for the mother of the family to offer additional blessings. In some communities it was common to lock the doors of the home from sundown until the next morning and not allow any members of the house to leave.
Gathering Jewelry into the Bsisa: Women took off their gold necklaces and bracelets and placed them in the “Bsisa” to symbolize the gold that women donated to the building of the Mishkan (the Tabernacle). Some women put their wedding rings in the mixture to bless their marriage. We have included a guide to performing the Bsisa below.
Important role for Women: The role of the mother of the family cannot be understated in this ritual. Some women lead the blessings given to each family member before they use the key to blend the grains and spices of the Bsisa mixture. Amidst the intense preparations for Passover, the Bsisa would mark the high point in the work leading up to Passover.
יַא פַתַח בְּלַא מַפְתַח
Ya Ftach Ble Miftach
You, who opens without a key
יַא עַטַאי בְּלַא מַנַא
Ya Atai Ble Mna
You, who gives without any donation
אֻרְזֻקְנַה וַרְזֻק מִנַּה
Arzekna Varzook Mina
Bless us with prosperity and we will help others prosper
וַרְזֻק לְעַבֵּיד לְכֻּלֻלְנַה
Varzook LeAbeid LeKoololina
May we always have what we need this year