The topic of s'micha is a touchy subject in general due to the fact that the s'micha we have now is a rather diminished form in comparison to the s'micha of the Bible or Talmud.
The institution of semicha was introduced to the Jewish people when Hashem commanded Moshe to designate Yehoshua as his successor by placing his hands on his disciple’s head (Bamidbar 27:23). The Gemara (Sanhedrin 13b) comments that from that time on, semicha is no longer given in this manner, but rather through a declaration, by a teacher calling his student “rebbe” and giving him permission to impose fines ordained by the Torah. That same passage also informs us that we no longer have the concept of genuine semicha in our days. The transmission of semicha must be done by someone who himself received semicha through a continuous chain dating back to Moshe Rabbeinu.
When bringing up the subject of women having s'micha, things get even touchier. Emotions can run hot and bold statements are regularly made. Here is an example of what is said when the topic of women receiving s'micha is brought up:
Rav Hershel Shachter intimates that , since certain non-masoretic groups ordain women as rabbis, it is a violation on the level of "yeharag v'lo yaavor" (i.e. one must give up ones life, rather than trangress) to give Orthodox smicha to women.
...we encourage one to give up his life in order to secure the continuation of the chain of semichah from the days of Moshe Rabbeinu.
Rav Shachter goes on to explain that, although smicha today isn't the same as Biblical smicha, it is considered an extension of it, and thus, must conform to the same standards. Anyone who gives smicha outside of those standards, threatens the very existence of masoretic (i.e. halachically observant) Judaism.
“RCA members with positions in Orthodox institutions may not ordain women into the Orthodox rabbinate, regardless of the title used; or hire or ratify the hiring of a woman into a rabbinic position at an Orthodox institution; or allow a title implying rabbinic ordination to be used by a teacher of Limudei Kodesh in an Orthodox institution.”
So while even though it is an established fact that the s'micha we have now is a diminished form, there are those saying that people should give up their lives rather than let a woman receive this s'micha. But what doesn't make sense about these ideas, is that women had already received the higher form of s'micha in times past, and we have no Biblical record of anyone objecting to it then, so why should it be different now?
Judges Chapter 4
ד וּדְבוֹרָה אִשָּׁה נְבִיאָה, אֵשֶׁת לַפִּידוֹת--הִיא שֹׁפְטָה אֶת-יִשְׂרָאֵל, בָּעֵת הַהִיא.
4 Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, she judged Israel at that time.
ה וְהִיא יוֹשֶׁבֶת תַּחַת-תֹּמֶר דְּבוֹרָה, בֵּין הָרָמָה וּבֵין בֵּית-אֵל--בְּהַר אֶפְרָיִם; וַיַּעֲלוּ אֵלֶיהָ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, לַמִּשְׁפָּט.
5 And she sat under the palm-tree of Deborah between Ramah and Beth-el in the hill-country of Ephraim; and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment.
How do we know she received s'micha?
Pirkei Avot Ch. 1
- Moses received the Torah from Sinai and gave it over to Joshua. Joshua gave it over to the Elders, the Elders to the Prophets, and the Prophets gave it over to the Men of the Great Assembly. They [the Men of the Great Assembly] would always say these three things: Be cautious in judgement. Establish many pupils. And make a safety fence around the Torah.
Since Deborah was a prophetess after the time of Joshua, and a judge of the people, it would be inconceivable that she did not receive s'micha. And for those wondering why it would be inconceivable that she did nto have s'micha, consider the following prooftext used to justify the authority of the Rabbis
ח כִּי יִפָּלֵא מִמְּךָ דָבָר לַמִּשְׁפָּט, בֵּין-דָּם לְדָם בֵּין-דִּין לְדִין וּבֵין נֶגַע לָנֶגַע--דִּבְרֵי רִיבֹת, בִּשְׁעָרֶיךָ: וְקַמְתָּ וְעָלִיתָ--אֶל-הַמָּקוֹם, אֲשֶׁר יִבְחַר יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ בּוֹ. 8 If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment, between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between stroke and stroke, even matters of controversy within thy gates; then shalt thou arise, and get thee up unto the place which the LORD thy God shall choose. ט וּבָאתָ, אֶל-הַכֹּהֲנִים הַלְוִיִּם, וְאֶל-הַשֹּׁפֵט, אֲשֶׁר יִהְיֶה בַּיָּמִים הָהֵם; וְדָרַשְׁתָּ וְהִגִּידוּ לְךָ, אֵת דְּבַר הַמִּשְׁפָּט. 9 And thou shall come unto the priests the Levites, and unto the judge that shall be in those days; and thou shalt inquire; and they shall declare unto thee the sentence of judgment. י וְעָשִׂיתָ, עַל-פִּי הַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר יַגִּידוּ לְךָ, מִן-הַמָּקוֹם הַהוּא, אֲשֶׁר יִבְחַר יְהוָה; וְשָׁמַרְתָּ לַעֲשׂוֹת, כְּכֹל אֲשֶׁר יוֹרוּךָ. 10 And thou shalt do according to the tenor of the sentence, which they shall declare unto thee from that place which the LORD shall choose; and thou shalt observe to do according to all that they shall teach thee.
If the Rabbi's get their authority from this verse, with their authority being based on having received s'micha (afterall in todays world, no s'micha, no Rabbi), then Deborah clearly receives the same authority since she is a Biblical judge. And there is no Biblical record of anyone objecting to her status as a judge, even though we have many instances of people objecting to Moshe's leadership/status in the Torah. And more than likely she was not the only woman who received s'micha
2 Kings 22
יד וַיֵּלֶךְ חִלְקִיָּהוּ הַכֹּהֵן וַאֲחִיקָם וְעַכְבּוֹר וְשָׁפָן וַעֲשָׂיָה, אֶל-חֻלְדָּה הַנְּבִיאָה אֵשֶׁת שַׁלֻּם בֶּן-תִּקְוָה בֶּן-חַרְחַס שֹׁמֵר הַבְּגָדִים, וְהִיא יֹשֶׁבֶת בִּירוּשָׁלִַם, בַּמִּשְׁנֶה; וַיְדַבְּרוּ, אֵלֶיהָ.
14 So Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam, and Achbor, and Shaphan, and Asaiah, went unto Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe--now she dwelt in Jerusalem in the second quarter--and they spoke with her.
Since Chuldah was another established prophetess, one whom kings would inquire of, it would also be really odd if she had not received s'micha considering she was sought after.
How do we reconcile the modern statements that women can't receive something they already had? Especially given the fact that the thing they received is greater than what is possible now?