Modality in Modern Hebrew is expressed in different ways. This article concentrates on one special construction consisting of an independent clause introduced by the particle še followed by a future tense verb, which expresses a variety of modal meanings: desires, wishes, prohibitions, volitions, curses, commands, etc. This means of expressing modality is very common in spoken Modern Hebrew, and can be found in various literary genres. As for its origins, although several suggestions have been proposed, we argue that spoken Judeo-Spanish (the substrate language of the first users of spoken Modern Hebrew in Israel), rather than Yiddish or Russian, is the initial contributor to this widely used construction.
Shenhar (1957) lists several Modern Hebrew curses and blessings with allusions to classical sources many of which start with še. Ben-Amotz (1962:20–22) lists a collection of humorous curses most of which start with še e.g. še-teradem ba-Kastel ve-titˁorer be-Hadasa ‘May you fall asleep in the Kastel (a hill on the way to Jerusalem) and wake up in Hadassa (a famous hospital in Jerusalem)!’