Preparation for Shabbos is a great mitzvah and we know of many leaders of Yisrael who involved themselves in it. It is said about our master, Rabbi Avraham HaLevi, of blessed memory, that he would walk extra steps to purchas and prepare the Shabbos necessities one by one, because one receives reward for every step. He would also prepare everything himself because of the rule that “it is a greater to do a mitzvah by one’s self than through one’s agent.” But I say that he was able to do this because even when he walked about, his Torah is what occupied his mind or thoughts of cleaving to his Maker, or love and awe of Him. But people like us, orphans of orphans, if we can find someone to do the Shabbos preparations for us, it is better that we sit at our homes and engage in the study of the holy Torah and thereby acquire new knowledge, for nothing is worth as much as Torah. Even so, a person should not do less for Shabbos than purchase at least one item or to prepare one thing, such as to set the table, prepare the candles and the like — in order to fulfill the mitzvah of preparation.
The disciples of the Arizal have already written that according to kabalistic teachings, the wicks for the Shabbos lamps should be prepared specifically by the man.