Watch Rabbanith Ruth Menashe's Video: Rosh Hodesh, A Time for Renewal, at:
Our Rabbis of blessed memory ruled that when one cannot afford to purchase both wine for Qiddush and candles for Shabbath, Shabbath candles take precedence. These days, I hope this is merely a theoretical question for us, but what is the significance of this question?
The reason the Shabbath candles take priority over wine, is because it affects our "Shelom Bayith", the peace in our homes. Especially in those days when the candles provided the main or only source of light, darkness caused people to be distressed, not able to find things, tripping on objects etc. The husband would blame his wife for leaving her shoes in the middle of the room, and she would shout back at him for falsely accusing her. She turns angrily to her daughter, who "borrowed" her shoes and left them in the middle of the room...
The commandment of lighting the Shabbath candles is one of the three special commandments that were given to us women. Hakham Yoseph Hayyim, 'a"h, writes in his book "Laws for Women", that as long as the wife is in the home, she is the one to light the candles and recite the blessing.
Why is it that women take precedence in this special commandment of lighting the Shabbath candles? Since the Shabbath candles are deeply connected with peace and harmony in the home, it comes to teach is that we, women, were given the key ensuring peace in our homes and nurturing it.
We, my dear and important friends, are the masters of creating "Shalom", peace, in our homes and were blessed to have within us the tools and talents to solve controversy and be "peace makers". May each and every one of us merit to build such a home, where the Shekhinah (G-d's holy presence) can reside.