Sarah was raised by her Jewish grandparents. She remembers the Sabbath as a day on which she couldn't turn on any lights, see her friends, or go outside and play. On the Sabbath she felt trapped in a dreary world that felt dark and punitive. David, raised in a strict Christian household, recalls Sundays as being similarly bleak. "We were not allowed to do anything fun--no games, no card playing, not even baseball. All we could do was sit inside, usually with my grandparents, and eat and talk or just do nothing."
Reb Zelman says the people who wrote such restrictive laws were undoubtedly people who "completely missed the joy of the Sabbath." The ancient Jewish Mekilta teaches "The Sabbath is given unto you, not you unto the Sabbath." Jesus similarly insisted that "Man is not made for the Sabbath, but Sabbath is made for man." These teachings clearly warn against the tendency toward legalism, which suffocates our joy, and drains the spontaneity and passion out of this gratuitous day of delight.