As the Rebbe encouraged bochurim to learn Yoreh Deiah and receive semicha, he emphasized that it was the halachic knowledge that mattered, not the certificate. To this end, he asked that the tests shouldn’t be easy.
In the year 5712 (1962), the Rebbe began encouraging older bochurim to study practical halacha and get a semicha ordination. At the 24 Teves farbrengen, the Rebbe explained why:
“In past generations, one would only receive semicha if he were very proficient in Torah. However, these days it has become the custom to learn the basics and get semicha. This is the approach I want the bochurim to take.
“Knowing practical halacha is imperative for a Yid in order that he shouldn’t blunder in any area, for example the intricacies of Hilchos Shabbos.
“The paper certificate is not the issue, rather the knowledge. However, technically, in order to know that a bochur has done his work, he should get the paper.”
The rosh yeshiva HaRav Piekarsky was present at the farbrengen. The Rebbe turned to him at one point and told him to make sure the bochurim learn the material well before they get the semicha. “Give it to them in the end, but make sure it doesn’t come easy…”
(Toras Menachem, Vol. 4, Page 259)
From The Weekly Farbrengen by Merkaz Anash