The sages are called "the eyes of the congregation." They are visionaries, they are guides, and they open our eyes to see truth.
In the World of Creation, the realm of pure intellect, the sages are visionaries. They gaze into the future and convey to us, almost like prophets, what's in store for us – for the people as a whole and for each one of us – dependent upon whether or not we better our ways.
In the World of Creation, we, relative to the sages, are in the dark. We have to rely upon their judgment and follow their instructions, using our free choice whether or not to believe in the power of their eyesight and heed their words to the fullest. Absolute free choice functions optimally in the dark.
In the World of Formation, the realm of emotion, the sages are our guides. Here they do not guide the blind but rather serve as tour-guides so to speak, taking us through the Pardes, the orchard of paradise, revealing to our eyes the myriad of its delights, each of which is a Divine "form."
Each of our rectified emotions is a reflection of a Divine "form," which begins with a sense of wonder at experiencing the Divine "forms" of paradise.
In the World of Action, this lowest of worlds, the sages open our eyes to see ahead for ourselves and plan the strategies necessary to achieve our goals in life. They teach us to see the truth about ourselves, who we really are, and to see the truth about our surroundings, the people that influence us and the events that befall us.
But here, in the World of Action, it is crucial that we fully identify with the righteous sages of the generation, especially with that sage towards whom we feel the greatest spiritual affinity. He is our eyes and his eyes are our eyes.