The almond is featured prominently in Biblical tradition. Yirmiyahu, in his initial vision as a prophet, sees the image of an almond. The fruit portrays the impending doom to befall the Jewish nation.
Rashi (1040-1105) points out that almonds ripen in 21 days, symbolizing the three week calamitous period between the Fast of Tammuz on Tisha B'av.
What is fascinating is that not all almonds are the same. Some begin bitter and gradually become sweet while others begin sweet only to grow more bitter each day. Which variety ripen in 21 days? This answer is counterintuitive -- bitter almonds that grow sweeter by the moment.
As we begin our decent towards the nadir of Tisha B'av, we recognize that it was not intended to be that way. We confused our almonds and squandered our opportunities. The period begins (on the Fast of Tamuz) with the greatly anticipated Tablets arriving from Sinai only to be smashed and culminates (on Tisha B'av) with a march to the Promised Land derailed for lack of faith. In both cases, greatness slipped away.
Reality is dictated by our perception. So crack open your almond and recognize that bitterness is often a prelude to greatness.
Rabbi Daniel Green